- The Eagle River man found guilty of sexually assaulting girls as young as 12-years-old was sentenced.
Emotions ran high during Joshua Leach's sentencing in Vilas County Court.
The 23-year-old had been found guilty on felonies of 2nd degree sexual assault to a child and causing mental harm to a child.
Judge Nielsen got straight to the point, "Josh Leach has a serious problem. That problem has harmed others. It needs to be addressed."
The problem focused on underage girls and the prosecution was quick to point out Leach's actions when arguing for a harsher sentence.
Assistant District Attorney David Breedlove said, "Creating an age difference between these young women of six to eight years. The youngest being 12 that he had communications with on the internet."
Leach met some of the girls through his church where he was a youth leader, but many of the conversations and sexual assault happened online.
Breedlove elaborates, "Facebook. He talks to another young woman, I'll call her E.S. She's 12, he knows she's 12, she tells him she's 12. Defendant, 'You are only 12.' Then he continues with his lewd and highly inappropriate conversation with a 12-year-old."
Leach admitted what he did was wrong and addressed the victims and their families, "I never meant to hurt anybody and I have to deal with that every day."
Judge Neilsen had many things to consider: Leach himself was sexually assaulted as a child and he has participated in a treatment program.
But the victim's justice and protection were big factors too.
With that Nielsen said, "With respect to whether confinement is needed to protect the public from further criminal activity. I believe the answer to that is a qualified yes."
Leach will now sit behind bars for four years and then face a decade of extended supervision, which includes registration as a sexual offender.
It doesn't end here for Leach... He'll be back in court next week for more charges in Oneida County for capturing images of nudity.