RHINELANDER - A Wisconsin Department of Justice push to get through a backlog of untested sexual assault kits may have helped solve a possible child sexual assault from 2013 in Minocqua.
A DNA profile from the five-year-old kit connected Brandon Darnick, 26, to the assault of a young boy.
Police arrested Darnick at his home in Arbor Vitae on Nov. 29. He was charged in Oneida County Court with first-degree sexual assault of a child under the age of 13.
The case goes back to a Minocqua police investigation from Dec. 2013. The boy's mother called police saying her son complained of a sore bottom that hurt when he tried to use the bathroom.
The boy complained of a "doctor" putting something up his bottom while he was staying with other people, but couldn't go into detail of who was the "doctor" or what exactly happened.
Howard Young Medical Center staff referred the family to a sexual assault testing nurse (SANE) in Weston. A SANE nurse took samples from the boy's anus on Dec. 13, 2013. At the time, the nurse told police there was no sign of injuries or evidence of a sexual assault.
That week, police questioned Darnick and a number of other people who were with the boy around the time a possible assault happened. Darnick told officers he was alone with the boy at times, but that he "did not believe anybody in that apartment would hurt [the child]," according to the criminal complaint.
The responding officer concluded at the time there wasn't enough evidence to show an assault happened, nor was there a conclusive way to show who might've done something to the boy.
In April 2018, the Minocqua Police Department received a report from a forensics testing lab showing two DNA hits appeared from the 2013 kit. A follow up report from the Wisconsin State Crime Lab in June showed one profile belonged to the boy, the other belonged to Brandon Darnick. However, that report did not show if semen was identified.
On Nov. 16, further lab tests from the state crime lab showed "the presence of a sperm cell" on the anal swab, which matched Darnick's DNA.
Nov. 29, police went to Darnick's apartment and told him about the DNA tests. When pressed about how his sperm could have ended up in the boy's test, Darnick suggested he might have masturbated in the bathroom and his semen then got on the child when the boy went to the bathroom.
Darnick willingly gave police a DNA sample from his cheek. They then arrested him.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Brad Schimel announced the state crime lab was in the process of testing the last of more than 6,000 untested sexual assault kits, some dating back to the 1980s. The effort was part of the Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (WiSAKI).
Darnick is being held on a $1,500 cash bond. He faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted. He is due back in court Tuesday afternoon.