RACINE COUNTY, WI -- **Updated 8:40 a.m. Aug. 17
A 37-year-old firefighter is on administrative leave for allegedly sexually assaulting a teenager in an ambulance while he took her to the hospital.
The assault reportedly happened in July 2011, but charges were formally filed Thursday for the first time. Racine County District Attorney Rich Chiapete said it took a year for the case to reach this point because the state Department of Criminal Investigation had to complete a report before the Sheriff’s office could refer the case to prosecutors.
In her report to police, the victim said she thought she heard the sound of pictures being taken.
"DCI had some information they needed to finish processing," Chiapete told Patch. "Images had to be downloaded and analyzed before the Sheriff could send the referral to our office."
Jodin D. Froeber, Kenosha, of the Somers Fire Department, was charged in Racine County Circuit Court Thursday with one count of second-degree sexual assault. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.
According to the criminal complaint from the Racine County District Attorney's office, on July 19, 2011, a 17-year-old girl working at the Trefoil Oak Program Center, about a quarter-mile south of the Racine-Kenosha county line. She began having seizures and needed to be taken to the hospital for treatment so the Somers Fire Department responded and took the girl to St. Mary's/All Saints Hospital in Racine.
The girl was in the back of the ambulance on the way to the hospital either in or Racine when the assault allegedly occurred. The victim said she could feel a man reach under her clothes and touch her breast. The man then stood over her and lifted up her clothes again while she heard the sound of a camera shutter.
The man then moved and sat next to the victim and lifted up her shorts and began to touch her genitals, which lasted for about a minute.
Officials with the Somers Fire Department told Racine County Sheriff’s Department investigators that Froeber responded to the call while off duty and was the only person in the back of the ambulance at the time. The driver of the ambulance said they could see Froeber moving around and talking to the victim, but couldn’t see what he was doing.
Froeber told investigators he treated the girl and gave her diazepam to calm her down on the way to the hospital.
According to Somers Fire Chief Steven Krause, Froeber has been a member of the department since 2000 and is still employed by the department. He was placed on administrative leave, with pay, effective Thursday when the charges against him were filed.
"His record has been spotless to this point," Krause told Patch Friday. "Beyond that, I can't comment further because the matter is still being investigated."
Froeber on Thursday was assigned a $2,500 signature bond while awaiting trial. His preliminary hearing is at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 29 before Court Commissioner Alice A. Rudebusch and he may not be involved with transporting patients under further notice by the court.