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Saturday, January 31, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 30.0° F  Overcast
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Anger follows sentence on Workman videotape sex crime
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Workman: A predator?
Workman: A predator?

At his June 11 sentencing, William C. Workman expressed remorse at the damage he'd done by secretly videotaping sex partners over a period of many years. But some of his victims want more than that.

"I feel he wasn't sentenced appropriately," says Cheryl, one of five women whom Workman, 45, was convicted of 15 felony charges for secretly filming. Dane County Judge David Flanagan ignored a pre-sentence investigation that recommended 30 months in prison, as well as prosecutor Doug McLean's milder request for a year behind bars.

Instead Workman, the former editor of a local paper that covers the homeless, got four years of probation with no jail time.

Four of Workman's victims spoke to Isthmus about the case; all felt the sentence was inadequate. McLean agrees: "I was surprised and disappointed that the court did not impose some degree of punitive consequence for such a long course of action that victimized so many people."

According to McLean, police found about 120 tapes involving more than a dozen women. (One of the tapes appeared to depict a sexual assault, but Workman's attorney claimed it was role-playing.)

Last December, a state appellate court affirmed that secretly recording sexual encounters of willing participants is a crime. The defendant in that case had a single victim, his longtime girlfriend, and was sentenced to three years of probation and six months in jail.

Cheryl, who asked that her last name not be used, says she dated Workman on and off for about six months several years ago, when she was a student at the UW-Madison. Another victim, who we'll call Marie, dated Workman for two years, from 2004 to 2006. Both learned about the tapes from police, after Workman's roommate reported his collection.

"I was absolutely mortified," says Marie. "Just to imagine what was on film and what he must have been using it for." She notes that Workman had multiple victims: "It's a pattern, and it seems predatory to me."

A third victim, Amber, agrees, calling Workman's actions "a huge personal betrayal and misogynistic"; she also uses the word "predatory."

Of course, nothing can be done to increase Workman's sentence. But McLean and the victims agree there ought to be a change in the law so that people who do what he did end up on the state's registry of sex offenders. The law as written does not include the offense of surreptitiously filming depictions of nudity, even for serial offenders like Workman. Here, Judge Flanagan's hands were tied.

McLean notes that there are arguably less serious categories of offenses that prompt inclusion on the sex offender list: "There's certainly a disparity."

Any tough-on-crime state lawmakers want to take this on?

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