Henry Vilas Zoo director accused of sexual assault to a former employee

Dane Co. Henry Vilas Zoo
Dane Co. Henry Vilas Zoo(NBC15)
Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 6:12 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Henry Vilas Zoo director is on a voluntary leave of absence Thursday after a civil lawsuit was filed in Seattle alleging a sexual assault against a former employee in 2018.

According to the complaint, the former employee alleges that Ronda Schwetz groped him at a hotel during an American Zoo and Aquarium conference. At the time, Schewtz was married and the defendant was in a committed relationship with his boyfriend.

In the report, it stated Schwetz told the man that the zoo had failed an accreditation and that she was upset.

In the police report, it states because he was on an H1 Visa at the time of the incident, he felt that Schwetz had “total control over his life.”

He reported the incident to the AZA, who directed him to an ethics board that Schwetz is the head of. The former employee also stated he fears retaliation now that a police report has been filed and thinks Schwetz has been “on a mission” to ruin his career.

She has pleaded not guilty to the sexual assault and also waived the right to a speedy trial Thursday in court.

In a statement from Dane County Dept. of Administration director Greg Brockmeyer said the county conducted an investigation into the specific allegations, including interviews with the victim and Schwetz.

“Ultimately, the investigation concluded that there had been no wrongdoing on the part of Director Schwetz,” stated Brockmeyer.

He added,” We support her decision to take a leave of absence, and will ensure that the Zoo remains a strong asset to the community during her leave.”

The next court hearing will be in August.

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