The River Club of Mequon (Wis.) was also rebuked by the judge who sentenced Christopher Hale, for “equally deplorable” actions in trying to arrange a private settlement with a beer-cart attendant after she reported one of the incidents. Hale was dismissed as a club member last fall, after the charges became public.
Milwaukee, Wis. lawyer Christopher Hale was fined $5,000 on April 8 after he was convicted of two misdemeanors for groping female employees at the River Club of Mequon (Wis.) last year, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
As part of a deal reached in December, Hale pleaded no contest to the charges. In court Friday, he acknowledged that he had committed “an indecent act of sexual gratification” with each of the victims, the Journal Sentinel reported.
The case first came to light last year after accusations by a beer-cart attendant and another employee at the club, which led to Hart’s dismissal as a River Club member (http://clubandresortbusiness.com/2015/09/08/river-club-of-mequon-wis-dismisses-member-amid-assault-allegations/).
In sentencing Hale, 59, Waukesha County (Wis.) Judge Michael Maxwell lashed out at the River Club for not encouraging a 20-year old beer-cart attendant who told her superiors that Hale had groped her on the golf course to immediately contact police, the Journal Sentinel reported. “How the club [acted] is equally deplorable” to Hale’s actions, Maxwell said.
If his daughter had been assaulted in the same way as Hale’s victims, Judge Maxwell added, the assailant might have to deal with “a couple of black eyes and maybe a bloody nose,” the Journal Sentinel reported.
Hale was arrested in August after the beer-cart attendant told police Hale had grabbed her breasts over her clothing and pinched her nipples, according to the criminal complaint. The incident occurred on the eighth hole, after Hale had told other members of his golfing party to play ahead, the woman told police.
A second employee then came forward to tell police that Hale “grabbed her buttocks 80 times” during the time she worked at the club, the Journal Sentinel reported. That woman also said that Hale had forcibly kissed her and “put his tongue into her mouth,” which the woman said was “disgusting to her,” the complaint states.
When the now-former beer cart attendant told club officials about the incident, they responded with an offer to fine Hale $500 and pay her that amount, the Journal Sentinel reported, in a settlement offer that was crafted by Hale.
In his sentencing, Maxwell said that somebody at the club should have told Hale—a respected lawyer who was well-known at the club and in Mequon—that “you need to take responsibility for what you’ve done,” the Journal Sentinel reported.
Ron Stadler, an attorney for the River Club, defended his client’s actions and said he was “surprised to hear that a judge would [make comments] in regard to facts that were not in evidence,” the Journal Sentinel reported.
Special prosecutor Jerilyn Dietz said “it is horrendous and egregious” when somebody “actively discourages” a person from reporting an assault, the Journal Sentinel reported.
Hale, who had been a partner at the Mequon, Wis. law firm of Hale & Wagner, was a friend of club owner Tom Weickardt and Hale had occasionally represented the club, the Journal Sentinel reported. He is no longer with the firm he founded in 1992.
Dietz, the special prosecutor, said she agreed not to seek probation or jail time for Hale because the financial penalty and the public humiliation that he endured in the well-publicized case would have a greater impact on him, the Journal Sentinel reported.
“This is a language that Mr. Hale speaks,” Dietz, a lawyer in Manitowoc, Wis. and a former prosecutor, told Judge Maxwell.
Dietz prosecuted the case because Ozaukee County (Wis.) District Attorney Adam Gerol knew Hale and had a conflict of interest, the Journal Sentinel reported. Maxwell heard the case in Waukesha County because two of the Ozaukee County judges also had conflicts.
In addition to the fine, Hale must also pay court costs of $2,236, the Journal Sentinel reported. Both victims are expected to seek financial damages, Maxwell said.
Kevin Demet, attorney for the former beer-cart attendant, called Hale’s actions outrageous. “A person shouldn’t presume they could take advantage of a person who was just trying to do her job,” Demet said.
Michael Hart, Hale’s attorney, said the sentence was fair. Hart told Maxwell that Hale “is not a whole man…[as] his reputation has taken a major hit and probably appropriately so.”