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By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — A 48-year-old Elk Mound man has been bound over for trial in Dunn County Circuit Court on three felonies and one misdemeanor related to the sexual assault of a child.
Richie Knuth appeared in Dunn County Circuit Court with his attorney, Francis Rivard, before Judge James Peterson July 14 for a preliminary hearing on three Class C felonies related to the sexual assault of a child and one Class A misdemeanor.
Rebecca Merryfield, an investigator with the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department, was the only witness called to testify.
Investigator Merryfield based her testimony on her observations of a forensic interview with the alleged victim, who said the sexual assaults began when she was 14 years old.
Following Investigator Merryfield’s testimony, Judge Peterson found probable cause that a felony had been committed and found probable cause that Knuth had committed the felony.
During an initial appearance July 7, Judge Peterson had set a cash bail for Knuth of $5,000.
Rivard asked the court to reduce the bail to $300 or $400 cash because Knuth had said he would be able to raise that amount of cash.
Knuth has lived in Wisconsin his entire life. He has one misdemeanor on his record from Illinois in 2003, he said.
Knuth has no reason not to show up in court and could be released on his own recognizance. He is employed, and his employer said he would hold Knuth’s job open, pending the outcome of the court appearance on July 14, Rivard said.
Knuth, who is employed in Chippewa Falls, would be living at his sister’s residence in Osseo, he said, pointing out that jails and prisons across the country have become hotspots for outbreaks of COVID-19.
The $5,000 cash bail was based on the seriousness of the offense, said Dunn County Assistant District Attorney Andrew Maki.
Knuth also wrote inappropriate sexual letters to another teenager, which adds to the strength of the case, he said.
The $5,000 cash bail was based on the seriousness of the charges, but Knuth is 48 years old, employed and has a minimal prior record, Judge Peterson said.
If Knuth violates the conditions of his release, the cash bail can be amended, he said.
Judge Peterson reduced the cash bail to $500 and ordered Knuth to have no contact with the alleged victim.
Knuth is scheduled to be arraigned in Dunn County Circuit Court on July 31.
Upon conviction, each Class C felony carries a potential penalty of a fine of up to $100,000 and/or 40 years in prison.
Upon conviction, a Class A misdemeanor carries a potential penalty of a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to nine months in jail.