HUDSON -- The attorney for a Somerset man accused of possessing child porn argued his bail should be lower, citing the case of a man in St. Croix County Circuit Court facing similar charges who’s been freed on a lower bond amount than her client.
Attorney Sarah Yacoub said at a Friday hearing that the court should consider the case of Joseph Brabeck, a Glenwood City man who saw his cash bond reduced from $25,000 to $5,000. Brabeck, 64, is charged in St. Croix County with three felony counts of possessing child porn and one count of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime - also a felony. Court records state Brabeck’s case could be consolidated with a Chippewa County case, where he is charged with two more sex crimes, including second-degree attempted sexual assault of a child.
By contrast, Yacoub offered the case of her client, 74-year-old Roland Kisling, who is charged with six counts of felony child porn possession. He remains in St. Croix County jail on $25,000 cash bond.
“Mr. Kisling cannot resolve his case until the resolution of (Brabeck’s case), given the apparent disproportionate treatment by the St. Croix County District Attorney’s Office of his case versus that of Mr. Brabeck,” Yacoub wrote in a motion seeking bond modification.
St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Michael Waterman saw differently. He agreed with St. Croix County District Attorney Eric Johnson that the bond for Kisling should remain in place.
The bond issued for one defendant “has nothing whatsoever to do with a bond on another file,” Waterman said in court.
“The decision is always personal to the defendant,” he said.
Waterman said Brabeck’s case was taken from $25,000 to $5,000 in consideration of the fact he received a signature bond in Chippewa County and has a history of making his court appearances.
“Mr. Kisling’s case is different,” the judge said.
Yacoub responded that Kisling has no prior criminal history and hasn’t had the opportunity to prove he can make court appearances since he hasn’t been able to raise the funds necessary to gain his release. She described her client as a man who hasn’t caused any problems in jail, where he “reads a novel a day.”
The hearing saw allegations lodged during the recent district attorney’s race resurface. Yacoub, a Democrat, lost the election to Republican Michael Nieskes, who currently serves as Johnson’s deputy DA.
“I do believe politics are part of what’s going on,” Yacoub said in court.
She said to the judge that Kisling’s circumstances would likely be different if he had a different lawyer. That her client’s plight has differed from Brabeck’s gives rise to rumors “that this really is a pay-to-play-type situation,” Yacoub said during the hearing.
Waterman laid out very specific reasons in denying her request.
The complaint against Kisling, the judge noted, describes hardcore child porn - “not the type of stuff someone could even make a mistake about.”
What’s more, Kisling speaks multiple languages and is retired, the judge said. And considering his experiences as a world traveler, it would “be very easy for him to pick up and leave,” Waterman said.
“He would likely have a high incentive to leave,” the judge said.
Yacoub asked if it would make a difference if Kisling surrendered his passport. Waterman said it would not.
Kisling’s case returns to court for a Jan. 20 pretrial hearing in advance of a four-day jury trial set to begin Feb. 7.