A St. Croix County man will serve a year in jail with work-release privileges and was placed on probation for 15 years in connection with felony charges of child enticement and attempted child sex assault, according to Barron County Circuit Court documents.
Joseph R. Link, 34, of New Richmond, was sentenced Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, court records said.
In April 2019, Link reached a deal with prosecutors in which he agreed to plead guilty to a pair of amended charges in exchange for dismissal of six other charges in the original complaint
In addition to the 15-year probationary term, Link must also register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and is forbidden to have unsupervised contact with minors. He must also attend sex offender counseling and will be allowed Internet access only insofar as his probation agent allows.
Court records said Link was the 13th suspect arrested by Rice Lake police last year in a string of so-called “sex stings,” in which an investigator posed as a minor child and engaged in online and text conversations with the suspects.
The complaint against Link said the investigator created an account on the homosexual website Grindr. The investigator didn’t specify an age for the account holder or attach a photo, but she did say she was “a younger male looking for a ‘daddy.’”
Link allegedly responded to the account in early May 2018, engaging the investigator in an online conversation.
When Link asked for a photo, the investigator sent a photo of juvenile boy who was about 16 years old, and who consented to allow his photo to be used in the investigation.
At one point, the investigator asked Link to continue the conversation via cell phone texting, identifying herself as “a 15-year-old boy named Noah.” Link allegedly agreed, and the ensuing texts became gradually more sexually explicit, according to transcripts printed in the complaint. Eventually, the investigator received sexually explicit photos via text, allegedly of Link.
Eventually, Link and the investigator set up a meeting in early August 2018 at a Rice Lake park. Police matched a car they saw at the park to one registered to Link. When Link pulled into the lot and texted the investigator that he was at the park, he was arrested.