Wisconsin restaurant manager accused of seeking underage escort, possession of child porn

WAUKESHA, Wis. — A Wisconsin man is accused of possessing child pornography and intent to distribute drugs, while allegedly telling an undercover agent that he would “pay a higher rate” for the services of a child, authorities said.

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Garrett Wootan, 37, of Brookfield, was arrested Monday and charged with 10 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of intent to distribute psilocin, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Wootan, who is the general manager of Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant in Brookfield, was arrested at his job after an undercover investigation conducted by the Glendale Police Department, the newspaper reported. During the investigation, Wootan allegedly exchanged text messages with an undercover officer about an ad for prostitution, the Journal Sentinel reported.

In the texts, police said Wootan asked for a girl between the ages of 4 and 12 and discussed drugging a child with narcotics, the newspaper reported.

Police said they located thousands of images of children, including infants, being sexually assaulted, WISN reported. According to a criminal complaint filed in Waukesha County Circuit Court, police found a portable hard drive and electronic devices that contained between 5,000 to 10,000 images of child sexual abuse material, the television station reported.

Police said they found nearly 3 pounds of illegal hallucinogenic mushrooms in six gallon-sized plastic bags, according to WISN. The mushrooms field-tested positive for the hallucinogenic psilocin, a “Magic Mushroom’s Grower’s Guide” and two syringes labeled as “Psilocybe cubensis,” the scientific name for hallucinogenic mushrooms, the Journal Sentinel reported.

“A bedrock principle of our justice system is that all suspects are presumed innocent,” Tony Cotton, Wootan’s attorney, told the newspaper in an email. “We intend to vigorously defend these allegations.”

If convicted, Wootan could face up to several decades in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, the Journal Sentinel reported.

Wootan has worked at Cooper’s Hawk & Winery since 2012 and became the restaurant’s general manager in 2015, according to his LinkedIn account.

“As soon as we became aware of the conduct underlying Mr. Wootan’s arrest, he was suspended pending the investigation,” Cooper’s Hawk & Winery said in a statement to WISN. “He is not allowed in the restaurant until further notice. Law enforcement has our full cooperation.”

Wootan’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 14. He is currently being held in Waukesha County Jail.

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