RACINE — A former City of Burlington police sergeant accused of sexual assault while on duty is set to be sentenced Monday, and if a bill making its way through state government would have been enacted, it may have impacted the case.
Assembly Bill 171/State Bill 104 would make any sexual contact between a law enforcement officer and a person in custody non-consensual. It would make the offense a Class C felony, with a maximum sentence of up to 40 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000.
Matthew Baumhardt, 31, accepted a plea deal on March 12, pleading no contest to two felony counts of official misconduct and two misdemeanor counts of fourth-degree sexual assault after July 28 encounter with a Waterford woman.
In exchange, two felony counts of third-degree sexual assault were amended down to two misdemeanor counts of fourth-degree sexual assault. Each of the original charges would have carried a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000.
Baumhardt had been on the City of Burlington police force since 2011 before being placed on leave on Aug. 1. He later resigned on Aug. 23.
To avoid a potential conflict of interest, Racine County officials asked a special prosecutor and investigators from Kenosha County to handle the case.
The state recommended a two- to nine-month sentence in the Racine County Jail for one of the fourth-degree sexual assault charges Baumhardt pleaded no contest to. For the remainder of the charges, three years’ probation was recommended, online records show. The judge, however, is not bound to follow the recommendation during sentencing.
The night in question
You have free articles remaining.
According to the criminal complaint, A woman told Kenosha County investigators that while drunk on July 28, she asked Baumhardt, who was on duty, for a ride home. Baumhardt reportedly drove the woman to an old water treatment facility at 640 S. Pine St., where he trained his K-9 officer.
There, she said Baumhardt asked her to perform a sex act on him and then she said he had intercourse with her. The woman said she was afraid to say no because Baumhardt was an officer and she feared retaliation or that he would not take her home.
The next morning, the woman reported the incident at the hospital. She searched for K-9 officers online, saw Baumhardt’s photo and recognized him immediately.
Burlington Police reports indicated that Baumhardt was on duty on July 28, and there was no radio traffic or contract from him between 1:47 a.m. and 3:24 a.m.
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.
Would bill change case?
If the bill, which was introduced in April and co-sponsored by Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, had already passed, Wanggaard said it could have affected this case. He said it might have made it easier on the district attorney to prove the charges.
“I think there might be more pressure on the prosecutor to not offer a plea deal. It could impact the decision process in ‘are we going to offer a plea deal?’ Now that I don’t have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there wasn’t consent, that eliminates a huge of burden of proof. That’s huge,” Wanggaard said.
The bill passed the State Assembly Thursday by a vote of 13 to 0. It will now head to the State Senate.
“I don’t see that this is going to be an issue getting through though the Legislature,” Wanggaard said.