By Shereen Siewert

A jury in Waupaca County this week convicted a Marion man of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old New London girl in 2012. The conviction is the first since the launch of the Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, according to Attorney General Josh Kaul.

Leroy R. Whittenberger, 51, was convicted Aug. 28 in Waupaca County Circuit Court of three counts of second degree sexual assault with the use of force, class C felonies. He was positively identified through DNA swabs taken during an examination of the victim shortly after the assaults took place. The sexual assault kit wasn’t tested for five years.

“A survivor who waited years for justice has finally received it,” Kaul said, in a news release issued Thursday. “Yesterday’s verdict is a result of her courage and the work of the public servants who have been dedicated to getting justice in this case.”

This conviction was the result of joint effort by civilian witnesses, New London Police Department, Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory DNA Analyst Kara Raymond, and the Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI). The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Amber Hahn and Noel Lawrence, with assistance from legal associate Tiffany Briggs, paralegals Jackie Righter and Rachael Sweet, in partnership with the Waupaca County District Attorney’s Office.

Whittenberger is a serial sexual offender and has three prior sexual assault convictions from Lincoln and Marathon counties. Kaul said.. Law enforcement and local advocacy service providers from those counties were instrumental in bringing about these new convictions.

A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled. Each count carries a potential maximum period of imprisonment of 25 years initial confinement and 15 years extended supervision.