Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation, Inc. ----Discussion Forum

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I'm not sure what Scott/Karen do about such situations but if they feel they want to post this...great. 
Sterling Rachwal has been released from jail and is supposed to be living near Fond du Lac. His history is worrisome for all horse owners. He was incarcerated after sexually abusing horses and in at least one case the horse died. His perversions started as a child with arson and have escalated since and I'm estimating he is currently about 40+. His family lives in Waupaca county but he has been charged in other counties as well. 
We need to alert horse owners and vets that horses he molests can present with colic symptoms and the vet needs to check for tears in the bowel. In the past he has carefully planned his attacks and both mares and gelding are targeted. 
Few states have laws about sex with animals thus unless the animal is damaged in some way it is difficult to charge abuse and even then it's a misdemeanor. Sad situation.
I believe you can find Wisconsin circuit court records of his cases but for details you may need to contact your local officer and have them check for you.... 
Sharon Potter
I would add my caution to twadwis's warning.....this guy has been in and out of jail/mental institutions etc. for decades, and always comes right back to doing it all again.  I have personal knowledge of two of the horses he abused....one was a pony, found dead and tied by the front legs over a fence post with a chain,and a broom handle rammed up its rectum.  The other is a very nice mare that he also sexually abused while she was pregnant, and the mare's owners never knew he had moved in next door.   This is not a safe person to have around your horses....be very, very careful! 
Thank you for posting this, I hope others cross post this message out there to alert everyone of this.  Very, very scary.  How sad is it that people like this can be allowed to be out and walking around.  Sickening. 
Sharon Potter
Karen, I just did a little more homework, and he has a page on Facebook...with a photograph.  I'd advise taking a hard look at it and memorizing that photo for anyone in that area.  He's about 47 years old.


Anna WI

Well this is good to know because I live in Waupaca county and know of one horse that he abused not too far from me. Looks like we will have to keep a closer eye on things around here.


It blows me away that he has 37 friends on Facebook...don't people know what he did, or don't they care?!!! 

Sharon Potter
Likely they don't know. I sifted through them and there are some women with horses...wish there were a way to warn them.

Thank you so much for sharing this information.  Here, I am worried about coyotes in my pasture, but I guess that I have more to worry about living just outside of Fond du Lac.  Will definitely share this information with other horse owners in the aren.

Karen S

you can send people messages through facebook without being their friend.  Just click on their link through his profile.  This will take you to their profile page and you can send them a message. 

I find it a bit scary that he is on Facebook and has friends who have horses. 
Now I believe the very reliable sources that brought this forth, but if there is somewhere that a person could be referenced to that would show these things and his charges I think he could be reported to Facebook and more than likely removed. 
       You can find him on this site        wcca.wicourts.gov/
Here is something from there and there is more on the website on him:   

On one or more charges in this case, Sterling Rachwal was found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. The defendant was found guilty of actually committing the crime(s) charged, but was also found not to be legally responsible under Wis. Stats. 971.165 for committing the crime(s) because of the defendant's mental condition. The legal effect of a finding of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect is that the court must commit the defendant to the custody of the Department of Health and Family Services.




Well those of us on Facebook can post this info in our status and get the word out quick...


I would like to be able to find some details.  Just that he was found guilty of a crime and found mentally ill I am not sure is enough.  Believe me, I want to report this guy and get him off of FB, but I also do not want a law suit either.  Are there any newspapers that reported what it was that he did?  Anything out there? 

Sharon Potter
No problem.  A lot of the case info is from the mid 80s and not out there to see anymore  (and there's an ongoing appeal on a technicality but he still did sexual stuff to horses...can't give the details on a family board like this) but here's some stuff from the last few cases.

If you just do a search on his name, you'll find more, but here are a few:




Thank you Sharon, that helps tremendously. 


His parents have a farm about 5 or 6 miles from us. If I remember correctly, he was put in jail once for a couple years, released, and then he was found doing it again, and put back in jail. One of the horses he molested belonged to his sister. It has been a long time since this happened, but I believe that there were quite a few suspected cases of abuse.

If you can go back and check old newspaper reports, check on the Appleton Post Crescent, and also the New London Press Star.
I wish there was a way to get a memo out to all equine vets to be on the alert. I'm going to contact a local equine clinic to see if they have any ideas. Maybe if we all contact our own vets that will get the word out.
I'm from Waupaca county and since he knows who I am it is pretty un-nerving to know he's out. 
His mother tape recorded his trials (spooky) and has protected him in the past so I wouldn't be surprised if he goes back to their farm near New London if he can sneak away for any length of time. I'm still trying to get more info and will post what I find.
Laurie L.
Being that we do release people who have murdered other humans from prison, no we don't incarcerate someone who has abused an animal for life, nor do we kill them.  So yes, folks like this guy will be released.

If he was found not guilty by reason of mental defect, and remanded into the custody of DHS, then he has a case worker.  Before anyone goes around posting things on FB and alerting the media or whatever, perhaps those who live in the same county should contact the local Department of Corrections and/or DHS and find out who is providing the supervision for the individual.  And you can then ask questions about what type of supervision. 

For all you know, he may be on GPS, etc. etc.  You can also tell his case worker/agent about his Facebook page and let them deal with it or be alerted to it.  I have to say, the photo on him and a dog creeped me out quite a bit.
Eric B.
If any of you knew me more than from this site, you would know that I would the first one to go after this guy. 

Saying that, one of my concerns it I can not find a photo of this guy associated with any of these articles.  I know this is not a common name, but I would hate for someone to go after this guy on Facebook, or other avenues, and it not be the actual guy that committed these heinous acts.  Just be careful, these guys are the ones that actually end up winning lawsuits that may arise from something like this.

Mary H.
If you look a bit further on fb and read a little more, you can be pretty sure that it's him.  The picture is not the greatest (poor dog). twadwis - that is pretty unnerving to say the least.  My concern is not only for any horses he may encounter but also for any other animals or even humans for that matter.  He is looking for a relationship according to his fb page.....I have to go and vomit now......

For someone like him there should have been a court order that he is not allowed to ever own any animals.  I could not care less if he was found not guilty in one of the cases because of mental defect, does not matter, he should not be allowed to own animals, ever, period.  I have seen that get handed out to people in animal neglect and abuse cases, and his should be no different.  I cannot find where that was ever ordered, and that blows me away.  He's "looking for love" there on Facebook, and I sure hope he won't find a human victim like his animal victims. 

FRIGHTENING is the only word I can come up with....and I'm right there with Eric on that  first line.

That part about "looking for love".....  With his 'defect' - he might not care if it's consensual (clearly not the case, based on his history).  He doesn't even care if it's human!  There really should be a place for 'his kind'....

I assure Eric that the facebook Sterling is the real guy. I've sat in court and had him stare at me enough that I could never forget that face.
I was just reminded that one of his victims was a mare with a foal at her side, she had a stick tear up her rectum and also her nipples were cut off. 
Yes he has had caseworkers through DHS and I can't imagine he could be described as anything but mentally ill, but nothing DHD or the legal system has done has prevented him from repeating EVERY time he gets out. At one time he was staying in a half way house and supposedly one of the other residents was a child molester...can we please hope that wasn't true!
Thus far the word is he is on 'supervised probation' but no bracelet. 
I trying to find out what kind of car he drives.
I understand that much of what we talk about is history and speculation but the facts are he is a convicted felon, he has injured/killed horses and we need to be aware he's out there.
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