RACINE — A former City of Burlington police sergeant accused of sexual assault while on duty pleaded no contest to four charges Tuesday.
Matthew Baumhardt, 30 — who now lives in Campbellsport — pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and two felony counts of official misconduct after an encounter with a Waterford woman last July 28.
The misdemeanor counts were amended from two felony counts of third-degree sexual assault. Each of those charges would have carried a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000.
In exchange, the state recommended a nine-month sentence in the Racine County Jail for the misdemeanor count of fourth-degree sexual assault. For the other three charges, a period of three years’ probation was recommended, online records show; however, the judge does not need to follow these guidelines at sentencing.
To avoid a potential conflict of interest, Racine County officials asked a special prosecutor and investigators from Kenosha County to handle the case.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Baumhardt on June 17 at the Law Enforcement Center, 717 Wisconsin Ave.
The night in question
A woman told Kenosha County investigators that she was drunk the evening of July 28. After getting into a fight with her boyfriend, she said she saw Baumhardt’s squad car and asked him for a ride home.
Baumhardt said he could not leave the City of Burlington because he was on patrol but would take her — but would need a favor from her, the woman said.
She said Baumhardt reportedly drove for three to five minutes to a location she did not know, which was later determined to be an old water treatment facility at 640 S. Pine St., where he trained his K-9 officer.
The woman said Baumhardt reminded her that she owed him a favor and asked her to get on her knees and perform a sex act. She said that Baumhardt then asked her to get up, bent her over a railing and had intercourse with her.
The complainant said she did not want to engage in the sexual acts but never said no because Baumhardt was an officer with a gun and a police dog, and she was afraid he would retaliate or force her to engage in sexual acts. She said she was also afraid he would leave her in the building and not give her a ride home.
The next morning, the woman went to a hospital to report the incident. She searched for K-9 officers online, saw Baumhardt’s photo and recognized him immediately.
Burlington Police reports indicated that Baumhardt was working the night in question, and there was no radio traffic or contract from him between 1:47 a.m. and 3:24 a.m. that morning.
Resigned from force in August
Following the incident, the City of Burlington Police Department placed Baumhardt, who had been on the force since 2011, on administrative leave on Aug. 1. On Aug. 23, Baumhardt submitted his resignation without providing a reason.
Baumhardt claimed the woman initiated sexual contact. He told investigators that the woman threatened to report him for rape if he did not have sex with her.
Baumhardt said he told her he did not want to have sex with her because he was married and was afraid he could lose his job. Because of this, he said, he decided to cooperate and do what the woman asked. He stated that afterward he felt like he had been raped because she had blackmailed him to have sex with her.