A Wisconsin man has entered not guilty pleas to both felony and misdemeanor sex charges involving a Lake County Sheriff’s Office online investigation in which he allegedly believed he was communicating with a 14-year-old girl.
Jason Wiese, 28, of Melrose in the Black River Falls area of Wisconsin, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to three counts of grooming, a Class 4 felony carrying a potential prison sentence of one to three years in prison, and two counts of sexual exploitation of a child, punishable by up to one year in prison upon conviction.
Wiese is free from custody after posting 10 percent of a $50,000 bond, but lives several hours to the north and must make the drive to and from Lake County for his court appearances.
Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Stanton said the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department in Wisconsin has seized his computers and is also initiating a possible investigation.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office Cyercrimes Unit began an online child exploitation investigation involving Wiese last year after he began communicating with an investigator he believed was a 14-year-old girl, officials said.
Authorities allege Wiese began sending numerous lewd pictures of himself to the investigator and requested lewd pictures in return, and that he also engaged in numerous sexually explicit conversations.
In May, an arrest warrant was issued for Wiese, and he was arrested without incident in Jackson County, Wisconsin.
As part of his bond conditions, Wiese has been ordered to have no contact with children. He has been given an initial trial date of Oct. 6, with a status hearing scheduled Sept. 9.
Sheriff’s officials said Wiese told them he had spoken to and “been with a few girls” from Illinois, and are asking anyone who may recognize Wiese as someone who has communicated with or solicited a child to contact the sheriff’s office Cybercrimes Unit at 847-377-4145.