UPDATE: Monroe man found guilty in game-day sexual assault - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Monroe man found guilty in game-day sexual assault

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Zachary Vannatta Zachary Vannatta

MADISON (WKOW) -- A jury found a Monroe man guilty Thursday of the sexual assault of an intoxicated victim, stemming from an incident at a tailgate-type party just blocks away from the Badger football team's home opener at Camp Randall Stadium at 2016.

Loved ones of Zachary Vannatta sobbed loudly as Dane County Judge William Hanrahan read the guilty verdict.  Jurors had deliberated three hours over two days.

The victim - a 19-year old student at the time - was attending her first game day party.  Trial testimony showed she and other party goers played drinking games, and she became incredibly drunk, with Vannatta helping her as she vomited as a result of the drinking.

Prosecutors convinced jurors as the victim lay on a couch, Vannatta sexually touched her several times.  Vannatta's DNA was found one of the victim's breasts.  The two people met for the first time at the party, with Vannatta's girlfriend also attending.

The party host testified she saw Vannatta making advances on the sometimes incoherent victim, and when he refused to stop, took the victim into a party room and locked the door.

One of the victim's family members tells 27 News the courage of the party host and some other women attending the party in coming to the victim's aid was critical.  He says the bystander response to the victim's crisis is an example for campus communities in Madison, as they urge students to report sexual assaults, and take actions to address them:


Hanrahan allowed Vannatta to remain free on a signature bond pending his sentencing.  He faces possible prison time.  

Vannatta left the courtroom without comment to 27 News.


UPDATE -- Zachary Vannatta, on trial for the second degree sexual assault of an intoxicated person, has been convicted of second-degree sexual assault. A  jury returned the verdict about 10 a.m. Thursday


UPDATE - A Dane County jury resumes its deliberations Thursday in a Badger game day sex assault trial.

For two hours Wednesday, jurors deliberated the fate of Zachary Vannatta of Monroe, who is on trial for the second degree sexual assault of an intoxicated person.  After failing to reach a verdict, Judge William Hanrahan sent them home.

A victim testified that as the Badgers played their home opener in 2016 at Camp Randall Stadium, she became incredibly drunk at a party nearby, and did not make it to the game, despite having a ticket.  The student testified as she lay on a couch, Vannatta sexually touched her.

"He's guilty, he did it,"  Assistant Dane County District Attorney William Brown told jurors in his closing argument.

"For some reason, Zachary Vannatta thought that night that he gets to do what he wants, that he found a young woman, that he gets to prey on her,"  Brown said.

"He's been alleged to have kissed a woman who had just finished vomiting,"  Vannatta's attorney, Jonas Bednarek told jurors in his closing argument.  "That doesn't make any sense."

The party host testified she saw Vannatta reach his hand under a blanket draped over the 19-year old victim, and refused to stop when she challenged him.  The witness also denied consuming marijuana in a brownie prior to the party, but another woman testified the party host did eat the brownie.  That witness also said the victim appeared confused after the sexual assault incident.  Bednarek said text messages show the victim told a friend at the game that the friend did need to leave Camp Randall to come back to the party and help her.

Brown pointed to Vannatta's DNA being found on the victim's breast. 


UPDATE -- The fate of a man charged with a sexual assault during a game-day party is now in the hands of a jury. 


MADISON (WKOW) - A victim testifies she tried to fend off a sexual assault at a game day party in connection with Wisconsin's home football opener in 2016.

Zachary Vannatta of Monroe is on trial in Dane County court for second degree sexual assault of an intoxicated victim.

"Zachary tried to touch me, and then he leaned over and tried to kiss me,"  the victim testified about Vannatta's alleged advances at the party blocks from Camp Randall Stadium.  "I remember turning my head away, and trying to push him away, and I told him, 'No, stop.' "

"His hand went and tried to get under my bra and he was trying to touch my (expletive),"  the victim testified.

Prosecutors say Vannatta touched the victim sexually several times.

Trial evidence shows the victim had a ticket to the Badgers game against Akron, but drank heavily at the the party, and passed out at times as she rested on a party couch.  She testified Vannatta initially helped her as she began vomiting.

"It just doesn't make sense that he sexually assaulted her as she was vomiting,"  Vannatta's attorney Jonas Bednarek told jurors.  "It just doesn't make sense."

Vannatta maintains the victim's recollections are spotty, and her friends responded to the couch incident by locking her in a party house room and manufacturing an exaggerated story of the woman's encounter with Vannatta.

Witness Lena Richter testified she witnessed Vannatta's advances on the student.

"I asked him to stop, and he wasn't stopping,"  Richter says.  "I then sat down between them as a physical barrier."

The victim was text-messaging a friend at the game during her time on the couch.  Texts submitted as evidence show when her friend asked whether she should leave the game during its third quarter to help the victim, the victim told her not to leave. 

Bednarek told jurors another party guest will testify for the defense, and intimated that witness will have a different recollection of events than the victim.

There's been no comment as to whether Vannatta will testify.

Jurors are expected to decide the felony case Wednesday.


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