A Mount Horeb police lieutenant had a months-long sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy who moved into his Madison apartment in October but told investigators that for months he did not know the boy's true age, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday.
Dennis P. Jenks, 44, was charged with repeated sexual assault of a child for allegedly carrying on the relationship with the boy between October and Feb. 13, when Jenks was arrested by Madison police.
The complaint states that Jenks "no longer wanted to be in a romantic relationship" with the boy, and but still wanted to be a mentoring "father figure" to him.
The boy, however, described Jenks as his "best friend" and tearfully told police that he loved Jenks.
Jenks appeared in Dane County Circuit Court on Thursday and was again released on a signature bond. He was ordered to stay away from the boy and not have any unsupervised contact with anyone under 18. He will return to court on March 25.
Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said the investigation began after police in Madison received a tip from another law enforcement agency. Jenks and the boy met with police voluntarily on Feb. 13, DeSpain said.
According to the complaint:
The boy and Jenks told police that they met on the chat website Omegle. Jenks said that was in August. They chatted often, and first met in person in September. On Oct. 28, the boy moved into Jenks' apartment after Jenks had offered to let him stay there.
The boy said he first went to stay with Jenks when he got kicked out of his house. DeSpain said the boy had been living with family members in Rock County.
"I was kind of like hesitant, but he told me he was a cop so I trusted him," the boy told police, according to the complaint.
But there was confusion over the boy's age. He said he told Jenks he was 18 and gave him a different first name, "cause I don't want him to look me up, he's a cop and if I told him I was 14 he would be like, 'Why would I wanna hang out with this little kid?'"
Jenks said that before meeting the boy in person the boy told him he was 18.
"I was very adamant in making sure he was 18 years of age," Jenks said. "And he said he was."
Jenks told investigators that he tried to confirm the boy's identity using his police credentials but could not find him. He also searched social media on the Internet, to no avail.
He said he continued trying to figure out the boy's age and finally confronted him after three or four months. He said the boy broke down crying and told him he had lied.