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Oral arguments set for September in Wheeler/Boyceville assault case

by LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE — Should a 41-year-old man go to trial a second time for the repeated sexual assault of a child that allegedly occurred 15 years ago?

That is the question concerning allegations against John Bruce of Wilson that will be argued in Dunn County Circuit Court September 6.

Bruce appeared in Dunn County Circuit Court July 8 with his attorney, William Schembera.

Court records indicate that Bruce is represented by Kerry Kelm, but Schembera told the court he was appearing “in lieu” of Kelm for that day.

A one-day jury trial on May 2 for a single felony count of the repeated sexual assault of a child ended when Judge Stewart declared a mistrial.

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.

During a hearing held in April, 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, and Judge Stewart ruled that evidence of a prior conviction would be admissible.

The judgment of conviction will not identify the victim, however, 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 at the April hearing

Schembera told the court during the July 8 hearing that attorneys representing Bruce intended to file a motion to prevent the second trial.

People who served on the jury in May indicated that the jury would have voted 11 to one that Bruce was not guilty, Schembera said.

Schembera said jurors would be called to testify about how they had intended to vote.

Judge Stewart said he was not sure if a poll of how jurors said they might have voted would be admissible in court.

Bruce’s attorneys have until July 29 to file a motion and a brief seeking to prevent a second trial.

Assistant District Attorney Maki will have until August 19 to respond to the motion and the brief.

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on September 6.

Bruce remains free on a $5,000 signature bond.

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

Bruce was between the ages of 23 and 28 when the alleged assaults occurred.

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