A 57-year-old Merrill man convicted of six felonies in trying to groom young girls as a child predator was sentenced to 41 years in prison, authorities said Tuesday.
In March, a jury found Gary Ver Kilen guilty of two counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child under 13, two counts of stalking and two counts of child enticement with sexual contact, court records said. The jury found him innocent of three other charges.
Prosecutors say Ver Kilen's victims ranged in age from 9 to 16 as he tried to groom young girls of single mothers.
In October, Ver Kilen was charged after three young sisters told investigators he sexually touched them on their thighs last summer on a trip to his deer stand aboard a four-wheeler, the criminal complaint said.
In April 2015, two girls ages 9 and 10 reported that they went to Ver Kilen's porch to get their puppy and found a note weighted down with a rock "with condoms around it," the complaint said. The note said, "Don't tell your mom but when she leaves for work come over."
Last January, a 16-year-old girl reported that Ver Kilen left a note with her at a Shopko in Tomahawk, suggesting she come to his home, the complaint said. He also followed her around the store and "lingered watching her," the complaint said.
Prosecutors said Ver Kilen left swing sets and bicycles on his property to try to lure neighbor girls. "He has presented himself to them as a skills man and offered to teach, mentor and befriend them," a complaint said.
Ver Kilen did not testify during the three-day trial. He was sentenced Monday.