Racine County judge rules violent sex offender may be released from supervision and leave state | Crime and Courts

RACINE — A violent sex offender from Racine County, Hung N. Tran, 52, has been released from all supervision and is being allowed to live out of state.

This comes amid Racine County finding it increasingly difficult to find homes for offenders who have served their criminal sentence — both in part due to community resistance to having offenders placed in certain neighborhoods and because there are a limited number of landlords willing to house sex offenders. However, those compounding hurdles are not directly related to Tran being released from his Chapter 980 commitment; Chapter 980 refers to the state laws surrounding the commitment of sexually violent people.

When people in the Chapter 980 are released from the custody of the State of Wisconsin, they are required to be released to the county where the crime occurred, and that county is required to secure housing for them.

Hung R. Tran

Tran with and without glasses

Last year, Tran was one of two men nearly released to live in a residential Caledonia neighborhood, but that placement was reversed after community resistance rose in part to their potential home being only a couple hundred feet from the perimeter of the popular family destination Jellystone Park Camp-Resort along Highway 38 near the Milwaukee County border.

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A home ended up being found for the other offender; he, Daniel R. Williams, now lives in the Town of Burlington. No home was found for Tran.

Now, the county has given up on finding Tran appropriate housing altogether. He is being released from his Chapter 980 commitment. While he must remain on the sex offender registry, he can now live almost anywhere he wants and there is no official entity required to supervise him.

Wynne Laufenberg


After a daylong hearing April 1 that included insight from experts on sex offenders, Judge Wynne Laufenberg determined Tran was below the threshold for the likelihood of re-offending after a day-long hearing that included insight from experts on sex offenders.

The rate of recidivism is approximately 27% in this particular category of sex offenders, according to testimony.

Laufenberg’s order for his release was stayed for 10 days to accommodate community notifications.

Since Tran has been released from his Chapter 980 commitment, he may live where he wants but still must comply with local restrictions concerning where sex offenders may not live, which usually involves areas near schools, parks and other places where children gather if the person’s criminal history includes crimes against children.

According to the Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry, Tran now lives in Eugene, Oregon.

Diagnosis and timeline

According to testimony, Tran is diagnosed with pedophilic disorder.

His victims were exclusively male children, which places Tran in a category considered to pose a higher risk for re-offense than other categories of sex offenders.

However, according to testimony, the older sex offenders are less likely to re-offend.

Pedophilic disorder is not considered a condition that people recover from; though, there is a course of treatment, which Tran was in for more than six years before his release.

Tran has been incarcerated for most of his adult life:

  • He was adjudicated for first-degree sexual assault when he was 14 years old and still in the juvenile system.
  • In 1992, Tran was convicted in adult court of first-degree child sexual assault.
  • In 2004, as he was approaching the end of his prison term, the state petitioned to commit him under the Chapter 980 statutes as a sexually violent person.
  • In May 2007, a jury found he met the criteria for commitment, and he was transferred to Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in the central-Wisconsin City of Mauston.
  • In 2012, Tran petitioned for discharge, which a jury denied.
  • In 2015, he began a treatment program for sex offenders.

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