Charges dropped in child sexual assault case

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Charges dropped in child sexual assault case

RACINE - With prosecutors citing a need for more investigation, charges against a man accused of having sex with a 12-year-old girl were dropped Tuesday.

Prosecutors said that more investigation appears to be necessary in the Racine County Circuit Court case, where Michael Han Sparr, 32, of Hartford, was accused of having sex with a 12-year-old girl in Racine. He was arrested in January 2008, after a woman called police to report her 12-year-old daughter was having sex with a 30-year-old man. He had reportedly met the girl on an adult phone chat line.

More work needs to be done on the case, said Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tanck-Adams, and Investigator Mike Shelby, who worked on the case, is no longer with the Racine Police Department. A new investigator will need time to get up to speed, she said, and other cases, like homicides, may take priority. That would extend the time needed to get ready for trial; Sparr's trial was set to begin Oct. 6.

"I don't want to set (the case) up for adjournment after adjournment," she said. "It would be best for a dismissal so I can work with the time line of the police department."

Sparr and his attorney, Mark Richards, had earlier asked the court to facilitate additional investigation. The defense contended that since Sparr's DNA did not match a sample found during the investigation, there was more work to do to find out who may match the sample.

Specifically, Sparr wanted the judge to order Anthony Lia, a former Kenosha County sheriff's deputy, to submit his DNA for testing. The defense contended that Lia, and not Sparr, was the one who had the sexual relationship with the girl.

This dismissal does not mean Sparr will never be charged with the crime; if further investigation leads to Sparr, the charges could be reissued. He had been out on bond.

District Attorney Mike Nieskes said the dismissal ultimately saves time, because prosecutors won't need to bring Shelby back to do more work. He also said the additional investigation isn't necessarily something Shelby should have done.

"Things come up through the course of trial preparation," he said. "There's a combination of factors that have led to this."

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