Valpo Man Accused of Enticing Minor Allowed to Go to Wife's Funeral

By Sarah Tompkins
January 7, 2011

HAMMOND | A Valparaiso man who has been jailed for more than a year pending trial for allegedly enticing a minor will be released Friday morning to attend his estranged wife's funeral.

Chicago police arrested Wayne E. Wigglesworth, now 70, in 2009 after he was found with a teenage boy in his car. According to court records, he had arranged to pick up the boy so the two could have oral sex and "hold and hug each other." Wigglesworth, who was priest decades ago in Maryland, faces a minimum of 10 years in prison if convicted.

Walking into Thursday morning's hearing in Hammond federal court, a frail Wigglesworth cried and whispered, "Sweetheart," to his 26-year-old daughter.

Defense attorney John Martin asked that Wigglesworth be released for eight hours Friday to attend the visitation and funeral of his wife, JoAnn. Martin said Wigglesworth would be under the supervision of his daughter, Kristin Rose Case, who would sign whatever bond the court deemed necessary to allow his attendance.

JoAnn Wigglesworth died Dec. 30 after struggling with injuries suffered in a 2007 accident in which she was the victim of a drunken driver in Iowa.

Case took the stand and told Magistrate Judge Andrew Rodovich her mother was in a coma immediately following the accident, and later had trouble moving and speaking. Her father would visit her mother at the rehabilitation center for six hours a day, Case said, acting as her voice. Amid tears, she said she and her siblings all wanted their father at the funeral.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Trumbull-Harris argued Wigglesworth should not leave jail for the services.

"We do believe this defendant is a danger to any child that he has contact with," she said.

While he may have been at his wife's bedside, Wigglesworth developed a relationship with another boy who was between 7 and 9 years old at the time -- a boy whose mother worked at the nursing home, Trumbull-Harris said.

Trumbull-Harris said the government is considering charging Wigglesworth with additional crimes related to children.

Wigglesworth's relationship with JoAnn had been strained, according to information revealed at the hearing. After finding pedophilia-themed material on Wigglesworth's computer in 2007, she broke the device and moved to Iowa to put a new life together.

"She was a teenager at the church where he was a priest when he met her," Trumbull-Harris said of JoAnn, adding that her family didn't find out about the relationship until she was 19 years old and pregnant.

Martin claimed his client was not a threat and would follow all the conditions of a temporary release to his family.

"Mr. Wigglesworth is an old man, and I'm sure (the family) can control him and make sure he doesn't hurt anyone or flee," he said.

Rodovich granted the request, allowing Wigglesworth to leave Hammond's jail in the morning for the services. The federal judge's decision comes at a time when Chicago's U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is considering whether to temporarily release former Illinois Gov. George Ryan to say goodbye to his dying wife.

"Mr. Wigglesworth, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt in this case," Rodovich said. "The only reason I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt is because of the amount of time you spent with (JoAnn) in the rehab center."

Wigglesworth thanked him.

While out, Wigglesworth is not allowed to have any unsupervised contact with children, and is not permitted to use any device with Internet capabilities, including a cell phone. He will not be electronically monitored because the court did not have a device with GPS capabilities, Rodovich said. And if Wigglesworth does not return by 4 p.m., his daughter will have to pay $20,000, and he could face an additional felony charge.

"If there are any problems during your release, it will compound your (problems) immeasurably," Rodovich warned. "You better be on your best behavior."

Wigglesworth's case is scheduled for trial at 8:30 a.m. June 6 in Senior Judge James Moody's courtroom.

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