Sexual assault victim angry at criminal justice system

Posted at 11:43 PM, Dec 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-09 01:02:49-05
MILWAUKEE- A sexual assault victim says she has more anger towards the criminal justice system than her own attacker.  The offender is out of jail, his name isn't on the sex offender registry, yet there's evidence he's assaulted four young women.  
The man convicted of these crimes was charged last week in connection with different a sex assault that happened last year.  The victim we talked with was unconscious when she was sexually assaulted.  Gina Pernacciaro learned about the attack years after it happened when the man who abused her handed her a sign confession. 
"I found out because he handed me an envelope containing two documents.  One was a chapter of his autobiography titled "Inside the Mind of Erich Vlach," Chapter 1: Gina Pernacciaro," explained Gina Pernacciaro, victim of sexual assault. 
Pernacciaro says the chapter detailed a made up relationship between the two. 
"But the really revealing document was his 31 page hand written manifesto in which he details his assaults of myself and three other victims," said Pernacciaro.
Pernacciaro met Erich Vlach when they were students at Marquette.  They knew each other through club volleyball. 
"Right between that acquaintances and friends.  We were never close."
Pernacciaro says the second time the two hung out they were drinking on campus. 
"We were drinking and he had drank more than I did to the point where he was pretty unresponsive and I wasn't going to just leave him there."
Pernacciaro let Erich stay at her apartment to sleep off the booze.  She started distancing herself after that night.  Pernacciaro got the feeling Vlach was following her, but didn't report this to police. 
"Waited outside my door or would just wait in the parking structure, followed me around campus, followed me to church."
About three years passed between the drunken night and the day Vlach gave Pernacciaro his manifesto.  In the hand written document, Vlach admits to sexually assaulting four women.  Pernacciaro was one of them.  She was unconscious.  It happened the night Vlach stayed at her apartment.  She says he tries to justify his actions in the letter. 
"He truly didn't believe he did anything wrong," said Pernacciaro. 
Pernacciaro has a degree in criminology and law studies.  She went to police immediately.  Vlach was initially charged with two counts of second degree sexual assault. 
"This is what I want.  This is a felony charge and it should come with him having to register as a sex offender and I want him to get psychiatric help."
The District Attorney's Office declined our request for an on-camera interview, but did provide us information about their decision making.  The DA's Office says they charged the case two years after the crimes, based solely on the materials Vlach wrote.  The state initially thought Vlach deserved felony charges, but in court the Assistant District Attorney recommended lessening the charges to fourth-degree misdemeanors when doctors determined Vlach posed very little risk to the community.  The judge agreed, the victim did not.
"Not only does he not have to register as a sex offender but in two years we will have a serial sex offender and it will be expunged and nobody will ever know," explained Pernacciaro. 
Vlach was in jail less than three months.  
"He's done this four times and by definition he's a serial sex offender." 
He's under court supervision for two years and if Vlach obeys the terms and conditions his record will be erased.  
"He did this and he is wrong and he hurt me, but I wholeheartedly believe that the justice system wronged me more by letting him get away with this," said Pernacciaro. 
Pernacciaro believes her case was a miscarriage of justice. 
"The last page of the manifesto is signed.  It's hand written.  There are so many little things that made it the perfect piece of evidence."
Pernacciaro doesn't regret going to police, but struggles every day with the way it turned out.  
"How are we as a society continuing to encourage women, men, victims of sexual assault to come forward about the most personal thing in their life and then re-victimizing them through the justice system."
We reached out to Vlach to see if he wanted to comment or share his side of the story.  No one answered the door when we went to his house.