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Judge says prior conviction admissible in Boyceville/Wheeler assault case

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE — A Dunn County judge has ruled that evidence of prior conviction is admissible in a trial related to the repeated sexual assault of a child who was between the ages of two and five at the time.

The Honorable William Stewart, Jr. ruled April 19 that evidence of conviction is admissible in the trial of John A. Bruce, who is charged with one count of the repeated sexual assault of a child.

According to the criminal complaint, Bruce is accused of sexually assaulting a girl born in 1993 from January of 1995 to October of 1998 and that the assaults occurred in Boyceville and in Wheeler when the defendant lived with the child’s mother.

Dunn County Assistant District Attorney Andrew Maki asked that evidence of a prior conviction of the first-degree sexual assault of a child in St. Croix County be admissible in the current Dunn County case.

Judge Stewart said that his interpretation of the relevant state statute is that the law allows evidence of conviction to be admitted to show character, but that the law relates only to evidence of conviction but not the presentation of facts and circumstances related to the conviction.

The judgment of conviction will not identify the victim, and if any identifying information is present in evidence presented in the case that identifies the prior victim, the information should be removed, Judge Stewart said.

According to the complaint, the alleged victim came forward with accusations of sexual assault three years ago when she was 17 years old.

Bruce is currently 41 years old and was between the ages of 23 and 28 when the alleged assaults occurred.

A jury trial for Bruce is scheduled in Dunn County Circuit Court May 1 and 2.

Repeated sexual assault of a child is a Class B felony that carries a penalty of up to 40 years in prison.