By LeAnn R. Ralph
EAU CLAIRE — A 30-year-old Boyceville man charged with three felonies in Eau Claire County for allegedly trying to have sexual contact with a 15-year-old girl is scheduled to be arraigned January 31.
Branden A. Bien waived his right to a preliminary hearing in Eau Claire County Circuit Court January 16.
[emember_protected] Bien is charged with three felony counts of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, attempted child enticement and attempted sexual assault of a child under 16 years of age.
During a preliminary hearing, witnesses give testimony, and the judge decides whether there is probable cause that a crime was committed. If the judge determines there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed, the defendant is scheduled for an arraignment hearing. During the arraignment hearing, the defendant is given an opportunity to plead “guilty” or “not guilty.”
If a defendant waives his or her right to a preliminary hearing, the judge uses the criminal complaint to find probable cause, and if the judge does find probable cause, an arraignment hearing is scheduled.
According to the criminal complaint, a deputy with the Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Department was working undercover January 2 and posted an ad on Craigslist. Bien contacted the deputy, and, communicating via the Internet, the deputy told him she was a 15 year old girl. Bien subsequently engaged in sexually explicit conversation.
The deputy arranged a meeting location with Bien at the Kwik Trip on MacArthur Avenue in Eau Claire. Bien was taken into custody, and during a search of his Chevrolet pickup truck, lingerie with receipts dated January 2 were discovered. Bien also had a box of condoms in his jacket pocket, the complaint states.
During an interview with investigators, Bien admitted he had intended to meet an underage girl, who he believed to be 15 years old, but “only to smoke weed with her.” Bien said he’d had a fight with his girlfriend earlier in the day, and she wanted to break up with him, according to the complaint.
Bien told investigators that after the fight with his girlfriend, he drove to Eau Claire to go shopping, and at that point, he went to the personal section on Craigslist and located the ad.
Bien told investigators many times he did not intend to have sex with the 15-year-old but only wanted “somebody to spend time with,” the complaint states.
Bien also admitted to investigators, however, he had purchased the condoms that morning while shopping and that he’d had sexual communications with the person he thought was a 15-year-old girl. The condoms and lingerie he had purchased were for his girlfriend, Bien said. A receipt investigators found in Bien’s pickup truck indicated he had purchased a Body Rage School Girl role play outfit at noon on January 2, according to the complaint.
The complaint goes on to note circuit court records indicate Bien was convicted of domestic disorderly conduct and misdemeanor bail jumping in Dunn County in June of 2017. He also was convicted in Dunn County in 2013 of trespassing, of the unlawful use of a telephone and misdemeanor bail jumping.
The Eau Claire County complaint includes 31 examples of communication Bien sent to the undercover deputy, including, “Wow are you a cop?”
The complaint does not include examples of the undercover deputy’s messages, so there is no indication of how the deputy responded to the question of being asked, “are you a cop?”
Bien also asked the undercover deputy to send pictures of herself, and when asked if he had received a picture, Bien replied, “Yes I did you’re hot.”
Bien also said, “Send me a sexy pic of yourself so I know what I’m coming to,” and “ok and it’s a cute name. What u gunna do to me.”
In another message, Bien said, “Ok you aren’t a cop are you that’s the only thing I’m worried about,” and “Do you have sexy panties to wear?” as well as (in reference to avoiding pregnancy and condoms) “yes I got some.”
On each of the three counts, Bien is charged as repeat offender.
Using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and attempted child sexual assault are both Class C felonies that carry a penalty, upon conviction, of a fine of up to $100,000 and/or 40 years in prison for each count.
Child enticement is a Class D felony that carries a penalty, upon conviction, of a fine of up to $100,000 and/or up 25 years in prison.
Under the repeater enhancement, upon conviction, the prison term can be increased by up to two years if the prior convictions were misdemeanors and up to six years if the prior convictions were felonies. [/emember_protected]