The man who terrorized two young children inside an Oak Creek home by beating them and putting one of them in a dryer will spend the next 10 years in prison.
Nicholas Fuchs, 26, of Milwaukee, was sentenced by Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Rebecca Dallet Friday to 10 years in prison and seven years extended supervision for abusing his girlfriend's children. While Fuchs could have gotten up to 18 years in prison for the abuse under a plea agreement reached with prosecutors, Dallet said she gave this sentence to give him punishment for the crimes and allow him to get treatment for underlying mental health and drug abuse issues.
Although Fuchs didn't get the maximum prison sentence under the law, Dallet said his crimes were horrific and the fear inflicted on the victims will stay with them for a long time.
"I can't imagine where this was somehow OK in your mind," she said. From January through October 2011, Fuchs abused a 4-year-old and 5-year-old, unbeknownst to the mother, while he lived with her in Oak Creek.
The children told police he would hit them on the bottom of their feet with a spoon and put their feet in a tub full of hot water. He also choked one of the children and pinched the penis of one child.
One child said they had urinated in their pajamas, so Fuchs put the child in a clothes dryer and turned it on. After further interviewing the children, police discovered he had done this on several occasions.
In July 2011, Fuchs broke an arm of one child. The incident was investigated as possible child abuse, but he said the injury was due to roughhousing.
Fuchs' attorney Craig Kuhary said during the time of the abuse, Fuchs was recovering from an opiate addiction and taking a very high dose of methadone. He also has bipolar disorder, which wasn't diagnosed until after Fuchs was arrested and placed in Milwaukee County Jail.
Kuhary said Fuchs was a loving caretaker for the children most of the time and the incidents of abuse were not constant. He said the fact Fuchs took a plea deal and didn't subject the victims or their mother to testifying in court showed he's willing to take his punishment and spare further torment of the victims.
"I don't want the court to walk away with the impression that he was this monster on a daily basis to these children," Kuhary said.
Kuhary recommended Fuchs get a five year prison term with a long extended supervision and probation period reaching 15 years in order to allow his client time to seek treatment for his mental health and substance abuse issues with the help of his family.
However, prosecutor Matthew Torbenson said 10 years in prison would be appropriate for the crimes, saying they were "shocking" and even garnered national attention after it was revealed Fuchs put a child in a running dryer.
Toberson said he couldn't imagine a more horrific experience for a young child than to be put inside a small, dark space that spins and blows hot air on them. "It shocks the conscience," he said. "It shocks the conscience of our society, it shocks the conscience of our national society."
The mother of the victims wasn't present at the sentencing, but members of Fuchs family were there.
Family friend Cheri Steinke spoke on behalf of the family, saying Fuchs has always been someone who cares for others and he takes responsibility for his actions. She said the family is also saddened by what happened, but they will be there to help Fuchs get past his issues and move on with his life.
"He doesn't want a pity party," Steinke said.
Fuchs gave a short statement before being sentenced, where he tearfully apologized for his actions, saying he wants to get through his substance abuse and mental health issues and learn a vocation so he can have a successful life once he's done with prison. He said he regrets wasting most of his adult life so far to getting into trouble and abusing drugs and alcohol, but by getting treatment for his issues he will get his life on track.
"There are absolutely no excuses for the crimes I've committed," he said.