A Madison man who slipped into a UW-Madison dormitory last year and groped two female students as they slept in their beds was sentenced Friday to 11 years in prison.
Stephan A. Burton, 24, who was found guilty at a trial in September of two counts of second-degree sexual assault, disorderly conduct, entry into a locked building and resisting police, did not speak in court when he was given an opportunity by Circuit Judge Susan Crawford. But Burton later acknowledged that he agreed with Crawford that the women he was convicted of touching would go on to do good things with their lives.
Crawford said that she didn’t see Burton as an evil person but someone damaged by his upbringing, which included tragedy and abuse at home in a poor neighborhood on Chicago’s Southwest Side, and also by bad choices he made.
“You’re being sentenced not for coming from deprivation but for the choices you made,” Crawford said. She said he needs time away from the public to get treatment before the public will be safe from him.
Crawford also ordered that Burton spend 13 years on extended supervision after he is released from prison. His sentence won’t begin until he finishes another sentence he is serving, which ends in July.
According to a criminal complaint, Burton got into Witte Hall, 615 W. Johnson St., in the early morning hours of April 23, 2017, by grabbing an open door just before it shut. Once in the building, he walked around looking for unlocked doors. One woman told police she was startled awake by a cold hand under her pajama shorts. In another room, a woman said she was awakened by a man with his hand in her underwear, the complaint states.
Speaking in court, the women told Crawford that they still feel afraid. One said she still feels Burton’s touch on her body and that hearing Burton deny what he did during his trial was “heartbreaking.” The other, a dancer, said her own body has started to feel “repulsive” to her because of the incident.
“Not only was my body violated but my instrument has been defiled as well,” she said.
Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Hilton asked for a 15-year prison sentence. Just a day or two before the Witte Hall incident, she said, Burton’s GPS monitoring for a prior case was ended. One of the conditions of his supervision in that case was that he not be on the UW-Madison campus. But free from monitoring, she said, he went there.
Burton was also convicted in 2013 of fourth-degree sexual assault for groping a woman in an elevator at the Statesider private dorm on North Frances Street.
Burton’s lawyer, state Assistant Public Defender Guy Cardamone, asked for a sentence of four to five years in prison, arguing that despite second-degree sexual assault convictions, Burton’s acts were not as egregious as those carried out by other people convicted of the same crime.
Cardamone also argued that with age and proper treatment, Burton would not be a threat to public safety.