On July 3rd, 2021 in Brown County, a now former correctional officer violently attacked a woman who is openly gay while sitting with her around a fire pit at her home. During the unprovoked attack, the victim and witnesses say that Shane Nolan called her a pejorative term, threw her into the fire pit, and beat and strangled her when she managed to crawl out and try to fight back. The victim, Dessiray Koss, was loud enough that her sister and neighbors heard her and tried to get Nolan off of her. According to the Green Bay Press Gazette, “Nolan pushed off Koss’ sister and lunged for Koss’ throat, according to her sister’s account. Nolan squeezed Koss’ neck, appearing to use all his force, she said. She watched his complexion change to purple while he strangled her sister.”
The attack only stopped when a neighbor was successful in pulling him off and first responders arrived. Koss is still recovering and suffered first, second, and third degree burns. Using Koss’s statement, photos of her injuries, and statements from her sister and other witnesses, Brown County prosecutors charged Nolan, who claims he was blacked-out and has no memory of the attack, with substantial battery, a felony, and disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. They added a hate crime modifier to both offenses that would have added seven more years of prison time and substantially higher fines if convicted.
All of this is truly shocking, as not only was the attack unprovoked and at Koss’s place of residence, but the injuries sustained by her were substantial enough that she is still recovering, having endured burn treatments and surgeries, a year later. Not shocking enough, apparently, to make the felony charges and hate crime enhancements stick however. This week Brown County District Attorney David Lasee has offered a plea deal to Nolan, without Koss’s consent, that reduced all the charges to misdemeanors and would require no jail time. While the judge in this case, Court Judge Kendall Kelley, has the ultimate discretion to determine charges and sentencing if he is convicted, Diverse + Resilient Appleton, anti-violence advocates speaking on the behalf of Koss have cried foul with this offer. Because Nolan is a former correctional officer, Kathy Flores, the program director, states, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette, “It’s hard not to be cynical about why a Brown County prosecutor is going lighter on the defendant.
“In this case, it feels like the call is coming from inside the house.” Regardless of the outcome of this case, the decision from David Lasee sends a clear message to the LGBTQ+ community in Brown County that they are not safe, and the law will not protect them.