While the case of an admitted child molester who used his wife’s Palymra, Wisconsin daycare to lure victims made state and regional news, the heinous crime of repeatedly molesting children between the ages of 3 and 6, didn’t faze then defense attorney – and now Wisconsin Attorney General candidate – Susan Happ. Although Clyde Mattsen admitted to habitually molesting children and was originally charged with crimes that could draw up to a 220 year sentence, Happ asked that the molester be freed from prison in just 10 to 12 years.
Mattsen – at the age of 60 – was charged in April of 2000 with five counts of sexually molesting children at his wife’s in-home daycare center in Palmyra, Wisconsin. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s April, 2000 coverage of the case, “Mattsen has admitted, in a taped statement, that he molested four children in the past six months. He also admitted molesting a girl two years ago, the [Palmyra police] chief alleged.”
According to the Daily Jefferson County Union, “The charges filed Wednesday [April 19, 2000] against Mattsen stem from alleged incidents of grabbing, fondling, oral sex and mutual masturbation with the children, according to police.”
Mattsen admitted to the crimes since the first time he was contacted by police and retained Jefferson County attorney Susan Happ as his defense attorney.
After attempts by Happ to have charges dismissed, Mattsen agreed to a plea deal in which he plead guilty or no contest to seven of nine counts of first degree sexual assault of a child. The state’s sentence recommendation for the plea deal simply reads, “State will not specify a number of years but will make clear that defendant should never get out.”
But even with Mattsen admitting to the crimes, Happ attempted to get Mattsen off with an easy sentence. She astonishingly told the court:
…I would note that the offenses for which he has been convicted were crimes of opportunity. These children were in his home; they were in his home for a long time. This is not a person whom society normally would classify as a sexual predator who is stalking children at malls or at parks. And I would ask the Court to consider that in ascertaining the gravity of the offense.
A few pages later in the transcript of the proceedings, Happ again explained that Mattsen was not sexual predator:
Mr. Mattsen is not what society or the law defines as a predator.
Happ told the court that, “I think the indications are that Mr. Mattsen would be a low risk to reoffend” and instead of spending the rest of his life in prison, Happ asked that Mattsen receive just 10 to 12 years behind bars.
The judge, in responding to Happ’s attempts to claim Mattsen is at low risk to reoffend, said:
I don’t think this is the kind of thing where you would want to risk any children, any more children. How many children do we have to give to Clyde Mattsen…I believe him to be an untreated pedophile…He is dangerous to the children. He is dangerous to society…I think this is predatory sexual pedophilia of the worst kind; it’s intolerable. It can’t be tolerated; it won’t be tolerated.
The judge went on to say, “He’s 60 years old, so that the sentence that I give him, although less than the maximum sentence, certainly will put him in prison for the rest of his life.” The judge went on to sentence Mattsen to 182 ½ years in prison with the eligibility of parole after 40 years.
During sentencing the father of two of the victims told Mattsen and the Court:
[Y]ou are an evil, disgusting human being. How dare you take away my girls’ innocence and youth…Your Honor, I beg of you to please sentence Mr. Mattsen to the maximum sentence possible so he will never ever be able to harm any other innocent little girls the way he has with my little girls.
Mattsen passed away May 21, 2014 at the age of 74. If Happ would have had her way, the confirmed child molester would have been released from prison sometime between 2010 and 2012.