Judge asks for more evidence against Marshfield police chief
MARSHFIELD, Wis. (WSAW) - The judge in the case against Marshfield Police Chief Rick Gramza is asking for more evidence before he determines whether all of the charges against him will lead him to trial.
Gramza is charged with three counts of misconduct in office, disorderly conduct, and fourth-degree sexual assault against a department employee.
“The facts, if true are certainly reprehensible, but the issue before the court is whether there is probable cause and whether the state has met its burden,” said Judge Thomas Eagon, Portage County Circuit Court.
Chief Gramza is accused of sexually assaulting a department employee on several occasions, as early as 2014 and as late as this past summer.
The Eau Claire detective sergeant investigating the case shared some specific instances the employee told him, including one in 2015, where she says she went into his office to talk about a promotion and then he sexually assaulted her.
“And made a statement similar to ‘this isn’t ever going to help you get a job,’ recalled Detective Sergeant Adam Taylor, from the Eau Claire Police Department.
The employee told Detective Sergeant Taylor she feared retaliation and when she reported concerns to human resources in 2015, that “it did not go well.”
In the investigative interview with the detective, Gramza acknowledged the contact but said it was consensual. Gramza denied some of the victim’s more sexually aggressive complaints. In court, the defense argued the police and fire commission has the power over employees positions, and that Gramza did not threaten the employee in his capacity as chief.
“This officer knew what her rights were.”
With these arguments, Judge Eagon says there’s enough evidence for the misdemeanor sexual assault charge, but needed more to move forward with the felony misconduct in office charges.
“There was no threats,’ said Judge Eagon. “There was no indication that she wouldn’t be promoted in the future unless she complied or anything that indicated that the defendant made any demands on her as part of his duties as a police chief.
The prosecutor responded,”and I guess we just differ on that, your honor.”
The prosecution has 10 days to submit a written statement making a case to move forward with the misconduct in office charges, then the defense has 10 days to make a counter statement.
Judge Eagon will make a decision on whether to move those charges to trial in mid-February.
Marshfield’s Police Chief Rick Gramza is expected to enter a plea Wednesday to five counts stemming from allegations of unwanted sexual contact.
He’s charged with three counts of misconduct in office, disorderly conduct, and fourth-degree sexual assault. Court documents state the complainant alleged unwanted sexual contact including inappropriate touching and verbal comments that spanned several years. The alleged victim stated she’d contacted human resources before Gramza was chief but the allegations never proceeded. She said she feared she’d lose her job.
The case was investigated by the Eau Claire Police Department. Gramza acknowledged the contact but said it was consensual. He denied some of the victim’s more sexually aggressive complaints.
Online court records show the offense dates occurred in 2014, 2019, and this June. Gramza is on paid administrative leave.
He is free on a $10,000 signature bond. He’s set to enter a plea to the charges at 2 p.m.
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