Merrill father and son charged in first degree sexual assault and cover-up, possible destruction of evidence
BY TINA L. SCOTT
A Merrill man is charged with felony first degree sexual assault and misdemeanor possession of a firearm while intoxicated; his father is charged with felony harboring or aiding a felon-falsifying information-as a party to a crime and misdemeanor obstructing an officer in an apparent attempt to destroy or hide physical evidence that could incriminate his son, among other things.
The first alleged crime
Vincent Anthony Louis Galella, age 22, of Merrill, was arrested the evening of Tuesday, May 9, 2023, on charges of attempted first degree sexual assault and possession of a firearm while intoxicated. The first charge is a Class B felony, while the second is a Class A misdemeanor, and if convicted, Vincent faces up to 30 years in prison on the felony count and a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to 9 months in prison for the misdemeanor charge.
According to the Criminal Complaint on file in Lincoln County Circuit Court, the charges stem from an incident that, according to the victim/witness, occurred at and outside a tavern in the Township of Scott shortly before midnight on Monday, May 8, 2023, during which the victim said Vincent made unwelcome sexual advances toward her. When she attempted to leave, the victim said, Vincent told her that she “wasn’t going anywhere” and then demanded sex and sexual favors from her outside the bar, threatening her at gun point and saying he would shoot her if she did not comply.
The victim was able to escape in her vehicle when Vincent briefly lost control of the gun. She reported the incident to Lincoln County deputies right afterward, shortly after midnight on Tuesday morning, May 9.
The victim said she believed Vincent was “severely intoxicated.”
Vincent appeared in Lincoln County Court on May 11, 2023, by video while in custody, and Judge Galen Bayne-Allison set a $5,000 cash bond and $20,000 signature bond. Bond was posted and Vincent was released, subject to additional conditions imposed by the Judge, including no contact with victim or going within 500’ of her residence or place of employment, defendant not to possess any dangerous weapons, absolute sobriety, no direct contact with his father, surrender of his passport, no leaving Wisconsin without prior court approval, no going on tavern or bar premises except for employment purposes, and orders not to renew/obtain a passport and an order that defendant is to be in custody of specified, named individuals for supervision at all times.
The case is set for a Status Conference on August 1.
The alleged cover-up attempt
Andre Pierre Galella, age 58, of Merrill, and father of Vincent Galella, was charged, in a Criminal Complaint filed with Lincoln County Circuit Court on Wednesday, June 21, 2023, with one felony count of harboring or aiding a felon-falsifying information-as a party to a crime and one misdemeanor count of obstructing an officer. If convicted, Andre faces a fine of up to $25,000 and/or up to 10 years in prison on the felony charge and a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to 9 months in prison for the misdemeanor charge.
In the Complaint, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office deputies indicate they were at/outside of the tavern where the incident with Vincent was alleged to have occurred, with a search warrant when, prior to arresting Vincent, Andre called one of the lieutenants on his cell phone and asked to speak with the detective on the case. During a conversation with the detective, Andre said that “he was aware there was an incident the night prior which involved his son, Vincent, but he didn’t know anything further.” However, the detective, in his sworn Complaint, said, “Through our conversation I learned Andre knew a lot more than he initially stated, to include the name of the victim in the case, and I informed him of the charges associated with the search warrant; Attempted 1st Degree Sexual Assault and endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon.”
According to the Complaint, Vincent then came out of the bar and was detained in handcuffs. At that time, Vincent’s cell phone rang and “Vincent asked to see who it was and then asked to have the phone answered for him.” A lieutenant answered the phone as requested, put the call on speaker phone, and then documented the conversation. Andre was heard saying how mad he was and then asking Vincent what he had done with the gun and asking him to answer in code. “Let’s do 1, 2, or 3. 1 it’s in the house, 2 it’s in the car, or 3 it’s where I told you to put it.” When Vincent deflected the question, saying “I don’t know what you are talking about,” Andre then told Vincent to answer a question with “Chicago means yes and Green Bay means no.” Vincent replied that he didn’t know what was going on and told his father he was with deputies, to which Andre then stated, “I see how this is going, this is entrapment,” the Complaint said.
“Vincent’s phone was seized and a search warrant for his phone was later granted,” the Complaint reads. “The messages on his phone revealed significant coaching efforts by Andre to get Vincent to hide and/or destroy evidence of criminal activities, both felony and misdemeaor.”
A transcript of text messages between Vincent and Andre from Vincent’s phone were also included in the Criminal Complaint which documented Andre asking Vincent questions and then telling Vincent what to say and do. One message from Andre to Vincent said, “Start doing everything I ask right now so I can get you out of your sh** again” and then later “Everything I tell you to do just do it OK” and “I just talked to Kevin what would the video say from the bar.”
Andre then coached Vincent saying “your defense is this …” and “… there’s no signs of abuse …” and told Vincent to take a “really good hot shower with some really good soap” and “get rid of any DNA from her that’s on you.”
“It’s not bad there’s no witnesses as long as she isn’t beat up or something else it’ll be fine” a text from Andre said. “And you’re gonna have to do everything I tell you.”
Another text from Andre to Vincent said, “I know her name. You are safe …”
“Andre asked Vincent what would be on the cameras which indicated he believed the cameras were functioning,” the Complaint signed by the detective also said. “However, upon forensic analysis of the system the original hard drive was not present in the system and the hard drive which was present had never been formatted for the system. The hard drive in the system was not attached with screws as it should have been and no videos were on the camera system hard drive.”
Andre appeared in Lincoln County Court on June 21 by video while in custody at the Lincoln County Jail and Judge Robert Russell set $5,000 cash bond, which Andre posted the same day, and $5,000 signature bond. Andre was also ordered not to discuss the case with his son, Vincent. This matter is set for a Scheduling Conference on Aug. 3.
These cases have not been concluded. Unless a judgment of conviction is entered, the defendants are presumed innocent of all charges.