Department of Justice petitions to commit Burnett County man

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(WEAU) - The Department of Justice has filed a petition claiming a Burnett County man is a sexually violent person and should be committed.

Warren Harer, 54, was scheduled to be released from the Department of Health Services. He has been staying there since he was found not guilty due to mental disease or defect on 8 counts of incest back in 1994.

Harer will stay at the facility until a trial is held on the petition.


MADISON, Wis. (NEWS RELEASE) - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a petition under the state’s sexual predator law against a Burnett County man.

The petition was filed on January 7, 2013, in Burnett County Circuit Court and alleges that Warren S. Harer (DOB 04/14/1958) is a sexually violent person and should be committed for treatment. The Burnett County Circuit Court found probable cause on the petition, ordered Harer detained. A probable cause hearing will be scheduled at a future date to be determined.

Chapter 980 of the Wisconsin Statutes relates to the control, care and treatment of sexually violent persons. Under Wisconsin law, a person may be subject to a civil commitment when the person has been convicted of a sexually violent offense, has a mental disorder, and is dangerous to others because the mental disorder makes it likely he or she will commit further acts of sexual violence. A civil commitment is defined in Wisconsin law as commitment to the custody and care of the Department of Health Services for control, care, and treatment until the person is no longer considered sexually violent.

According to the DOJ petition, on November 23, 1994, Harer pleaded no contest to eight counts of Incest with a Child in Burnett County Case No. 94-CF-30. Harer was found guilty but not guilty due to mental disease/defect. Harer was committed to the Department of Health Services (DHS) for institutional care for a maximum term of 80 years. Harer was scheduled to be conditionally released from DHS on his NGI commitment but will be detained at a DHS facility to await trial on the petition.

The state’s petition alleges that Harer suffers from mental conditions that predispose him to engage in acts of sexual violence. The petition also alleges that Harer is dangerous as his mental disorders make it likely that he will engage in future acts of sexual violence. A petition is only an allegation and a finding of probable cause only allows the state’s case to move forward. Harer is legally presumed not to be a sexually violent person unless and until the state proves him to be a sexually violent person at a trial.

Assistant Attorney General Donald V. Latorraca represents the state in this case.