Firefighter Charged With Sexual Assault of Teenage Girl in Ambulance

Victim tells police the suspect touched her and took pictures of her while being taken to the hospital.

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.

Chris Caesar August 17, 2012 at 05:11 PM
I am pretty sure they would redact incriminating photos of the victim and other identifying information from the report.
Trisha Lynn Dragon August 17, 2012 at 05:20 PM
@ Barry It's not the same. Charges have been brought against him after an investigation. True that isn't the same as guilty but there were interviews and evidenced uncovered, examined and deemed factual enough to move to the next level. I'm sorry but a man with a sterling record being benched and charged gives her accusation significant weight. Additionally, there is nothing in the facts that would give cause for the firefighter to be as active or chatty as he apparently was during her treatment. If she was seizing and he was medicating her with something as heavy duty as claimed there is nobody to talk to. Why were their photo's to analyze? "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." I am unaware of any first responder protocol that would call for photography of a seizing patient. Feel free to point me to that info. That aside there WERE photo's and the investigation of those photo's didn't clear the man, but instead prompted prosecutors to file charges. He may or may not be guilty, but something was most certainly amiss during that transport.
Kathy August 17, 2012 at 05:22 PM
The article explains that... 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.
Heather Asiyanbi (Editor) August 17, 2012 at 05:27 PM
@Jason - we have the criminal complaint, but we called the DA to find out why it took a year for charges to get filed.
Jason Gabbert August 17, 2012 at 05:29 PM
So give us the evidence, Heather. It's your job. If this guy has been formally charged, all the evidence will be in the complaint. Go to the courthouse and request a copy.
Jason Gabbert August 17, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Oh, there are plenty of policemen who abuse their power. That's a requirement of the job.
Jason Gabbert August 17, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Heather, are there or are there not photos of the victim? The DA said the delay was due to photos being downloaded and examined. Well, do those photos actually exist or not? Is there anything in the criminal complaint implicating the EMT other than the word of an incoherent, seizure ridden victim? Or is it simply he said/she said. That's all we want to know. Do they have photos? If so, what do they show? Come on, these are not difficult questions. What specific evidence does the criminal complaint have showing the EMT is guilty of the crimes alleged? Further, it's not that unusual to take a year to file charges. I'm more concerned about the evidence than the filing time.
Heather Asiyanbi (Editor) August 17, 2012 at 05:37 PM
@Jason - you sound like you might know more than I do about this. Are you willing to talk about it? I am getting the information from the criminal complaint, and you're right, that means I might not know everything, but it sounds like you might have some information?
Patricia Tardugno August 17, 2012 at 05:40 PM
The girrl is sure the EMT did something inappropriate, & that there should be a photo as evidence of it. Let them investigate, & if they find evidence, then the girl's claim can be validated. If not, maybe the EMT deleted the photo to save his butt, or maybe she was halucinating. But, from my experiences, I would guess she is telling the truth, & right. Most patients who are being transfered by ambulance are not pretty young girls, &/or riding unaccompanied by parents or a relative. 1/2 are men, the other 1/2 are old ladies, & the few children & young females are either accompanied by someone, ... or some don't live through the hospital visit to file a complaint. So, it doesn't matter how long that guy has worked there without issues, .... she may be the 1st to live through it. And, why would she wait so long? I don't think it is very long, but no one wants to look foreward to a life of not being able to trust Medical or Emergency Personnel, so her hesitation is understandable.
Heather Asiyanbi (Editor) August 17, 2012 at 05:44 PM
@Jason - As indicated by DA Chiapete, the evidence is clearly tied to the timing of filing charges. The fact that a final report from DCI pertaining to photos was the reason for both the delay and the filing should answer every question you've just asked me.
Trisha Lynn Dragon August 17, 2012 at 06:01 PM
I care for someone who had a seizure in the middle of a spinal tap before having a stroke and entering a coma. Did you have a seizure in the middle of a spinal tap before a stroke put you into a coma? No? Then your coma doesn't count, because all coma's are the same. See how stupid that logic is? EMT's, Firefighters, paramedic's, first responders...etc can be awesome. They are also people. Good people make mistakes, some of them unforgivable. That could well be the case here. If there is a parasite in the brotherhood, I assure you those who define all that is good and exceptional in the profession want them gone with a vengeance that is only matched by the victim. I have been primary caretaker for 5+ years for a now 24 year old with a terminal illness. The focus of my life is her, and keeping her alive and as healthy as possible, few people love and respect this group of medical professionals more than I do. They are integral to everything I live and breathe for. They offer me a measure of sanity and comfort that allows me to remain functional in a crisis situation. If something like this happened to her, it would be a devastation of unimaginable proportions. The deviants and derelicts MUST be identified and excised.
ItBeMeFromKP August 17, 2012 at 06:05 PM
I have seizures too ,and when I have one I am totally aware of everything going on and what is being said around me , though I can not respond for about 10 min. after but when i able to and talk to those who were around they agree with all I said was happening. There are many types of seizures but in my case I know and remember what is happening
Mr. B. August 17, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Folks, I've read all the comments that have been left. Let me say that I've never had a seizure and hope I never have one. I keep reflecting on the fact that the people who are investigating feel that, after examining all the facts, they feel that it's appropriate to proceed with prosecution. Until I learn otherwise, I think it's prudent to trust the officials in charge to act in the public's best interest in this matter. Also, it's been said that whenever the ratio of what is known to what NEEDS to be known approaches zero, we tend to make things up. Just sayin'.
Tom August 17, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Why does the Media refer to him as a Firefighter, when he is obviously working in the capacity of and EMT or higher trained Medical First Responder? He may be cross trained as a firefighter but he may also be cross trained as a carpenter, neither of which have anything to do with his work as a medical first reponder of EMT. BTW I agree with the statements above that some people have complete awareness while others are in a bit of a fog. Either way this is a young girl who is being touched by a stranger so of course she will feel like she is being violated, especially since she is not accompanied by someone she knows. But, if this EMT was doing his job appropriately than he would have done a primary and if time permitted a secondary survey of the patient along with checked her for injuries from trashing around during the seizure. If there is a medical or trama issue that he misses and she dies en-route or upon arrival at the hospital than he gets sued for not performing his job. With that said, every profession has it's 10% of creeps... It just bothers me that the media wants to put this 10% (whether guilty or not) on the Firefighting Profession instead of the EMS Profession where it belongs.
ItBeMeFromKP August 17, 2012 at 07:11 PM
I have seizures too ,and when I have one I am totally aware of everything going on and what is being said around me , though I can not respond for about 10 min. after but when i able to and talk to those who were around they agree with all I said was happening. There are many types of seizures but in my case I know and remember what is happening
Carol Weber August 17, 2012 at 07:45 PM
I find it very disturbing that so many of you seem to be attacking the victim. It appears that she reported this incident in the days afterward. She did nothing wrong. I have no idea why it took a YEAR for the state to complete their investigation! That is unacceptable. You would think that taking too much time would put them at greater liability as this firefighter had access to more potential victims! Remember that their was her allegation AND apparently some photos. What is really criminal is that he was released on a $2500 signature bond! People who are accused of committing far lesser crimes are given much higher bonds. If it is proven to be true, I hope this girl and her family sue the pants off the state and the local authorities!
BadgerMedic August 17, 2012 at 07:49 PM
@ Heidi - Sorry, I mis-spoke when I stated "all patients are aware"; I meant to say that all providers should practice LIKE every patient is aware of everything you do. Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that everyone actually is aware. I know for a fact that patients do not remember everything that happens - speaking from personal experience. Poor typing on my part; the generalization was not intentional.
Joseph Renda August 17, 2012 at 07:57 PM
I am a 32 year career Captain/EMT for a large metropolitan city. I was a FF/Paramedic for at least 10 of those years, so I have had plenty of experience with people having seizures. There are Petit Mal seizures which present as pretty much as a daze or catatonic state, and Grand Mal which results in the violent movement, or tonic Clonic motion of the extremities. Either way, most patients I have witnessed end up in what is called a Post Ichtal state, where they are unaware of what had just occurred. This state could last several minutes and some of the patients I have encountered have hallucinated while in this state. This is what I know about seizures. I am not saying that the young girl imagined what happened, nor am I saying that the EMT is guilty or not guilty. I think the real problem here is that the media has stuck its nose into the situation and, now, even if he is innocent, Froebers name has been splashed all over the news in a very condemning fashion. Even if he is found innocent of the charges, I don't believe that he will ever get his life back. Up until this incident, he was a valued member of the department with a sparkling clean record. He should have been afforded some discretion until it was ascertained that a crime had indeed been committed. I feel that he is now seen as guilty by the public and will never be able to crawl out from under that moniker. Though if he did commit the crime he should be punished commensurate with the crime.
Law Med August 17, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Having worked as a paramedic, a nurse anesthetist, and then having gone to law school, and presuming the DA has consulted with experts to the point where he is aware of the impact of seizures requiring diazepam to control on an alleged victims memory and reliability as an eye witness, and that he has reviewed all the evidence, before filing charges, I suggest it comes down to this: Absent any other corroborating evidence, the testimony of a victim who is post-ictal (the confused state after a seizure) AND who has received diazepam (a medication well know to affect perception and memory) is insufficient in and of itself to bring charges in this case. There MUST be additional pieces of evidence which are convincing here. However why in the world is would take nearly a year to download and view pictures from a cell phone or anywhere else is inexplicable. Perhaps what was happening is a forensic computer/cell phone expert had to retrieve previously deleted items, but one still would expect these things to be done in an afternoon to a day or two at most. Bottom line: Either they have pictures he took and his goose is cooked, or they do not and he should never have been charged.
mike August 17, 2012 at 07:59 PM
She heard a camera shutter?/ really? when was the last time you heard one> me it's been years, what was he using a old Kodak instamatic
BadgerMedic August 17, 2012 at 08:02 PM
@Tom - Probably because he IS a Firefighter, and a Captain at that. That is his professional job title. He may hold a EMT-B credentials, but he still is a FF. Emergency medical care is part of the duties of most fire departments. He works for the Somers Fire Department. There doesn't seem to be any Fire/EMS bias underlying in this article; If he had worked for a private EMS service or rural town EMS, I'm sure it would have been "put on the EMS Profession" instead of the "Firefighting Profession"
BadgerMedic August 17, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Pat you are correct; There are usually two personnel on every ambulance in the larger cities, they can work for a private company, the City as a separate agency or for the same Fire Department. Usually the system utilizes the Fire Department (non-transporting units) as the First Responders; in the more rural areas a lot of dependence is placed on volunteers responding in their personal vehicles or in apparatus from the fire station (which they might have went to get from the station). Those volunteers are not always available to take extended time to ride in due to other responsibilities. Either way, there are not always the personnel available to have multiple responders in the back during transport. The only time I take extra personnel with me is if I need help managing treatments/interventions on a critical patient. It is acceptable practice to have 1 driving/1 attending during most transports. If I have any questions about preforming any procedures on a female patient (me being male) I usually will try to do them with witnesses available (other female FF/EMT's if possible) or family members (if appropriate.) Our transport times/milages are all recorded to prove we did not take any 'detours' or take an extra-ordianarly long time to transport. Ideally it would be great to have multiple people available to help during transport; this is just not usually feasible.
BadgerMedic August 17, 2012 at 08:31 PM
So, You've made up your mind, I guess. You seem to indicate that you have first-hand knowledge with multiple instances of provider-patient abuse. If that is correct, I am truly sorry for you and hope you won't continue to generalize all EMS providers as patient-abusers. Coming from a provider who's been abused by his patients, and who ALWAYS puts patient advocacy first (sometimes at the detriment to myself), I find it disheartening that the conviction of this Firefighter/EMT is already set in electronic stone. If the verdict is guilty; so be it; but if he is proved innocent, similar to teachers - his career is likely ruined.
tojo August 17, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Can we all say politically correct, alarmist, "Bullshit" here. The girl was out of it, some cop out to make name for him or herself put the words in her mouth. Happens each, and every, day. Very often the police are NOT your friends.
Heather Asiyanbi (Editor) August 17, 2012 at 11:03 PM
@tojo - please don't swear on this website. It's not allowed under our Terms of Service.
sleepy sleepyo August 18, 2012 at 12:12 AM
same thing for me. I thought I was processing cards and making calls and in reality I was holding a jacket and pulling at it asking people if they had called the names on the cards that were not ther but I saw them as plain as day.
bigdoglover August 18, 2012 at 12:47 AM
I was in a car accident 3 days before christmas. In the ambulance I took my wallet out to show my drivers license to an officer who came in while the emt worked on me. The wallet contained $200.00 to buy a present for my wife, when I was released from the hospital no one had my wallet. I went to the fire station the next day and no one knew anything about it. The next day a mailman came to my door and said he found my wallet in a mail box that was 200 feet from the fire station, without the 200.00 dollars of course. This was 30 years ago. To this day I will never trust a cop or an emt. Even though they should be held to higher standards, they dont hold themselves to it.
Jason Gabbert August 18, 2012 at 05:06 AM
Look here, Heather. I don't live in Wisconsin. I got your link to this story because the local Patch where I live put it on Facebook. I have asked three times if there were any type of photographs included in the criminal charging complaint. That question has not been answered. If there were photos, what were they? If not, is there anything pertaining to what photographs may or may not have been found? It says it took a year because they were looking through photographs. Okay, what are the photos? Or are there any? One answer. That's all I ask. One answer.
Heather Asiyanbi (Editor) August 29, 2012 at 12:40 PM
@Jason - Evidence for this case is not attached to the criminal complaint. The photos processed by DCI are considered evidence and will not be made public unless or until there is a trial in this matter. Froeber is due in court this morning at 8:30, and I will be there. A story will follow shortly.
KCfactr September 07, 2012 at 12:13 AM
I'd think it's actually done out of respect. Most people work in the capacity of Fire AND EMS, and this is the case here. When addressing them, their title and rank is Firefighter. (Or in his case, Captain - which he should have been called) Most FF/EMT's I work with, if referred to by one or the other, would rather be called "Firefighter" than "EMT" because it's just a more respected position that requires greater risk and physical demand. But "paramedic" would be more appropriate here anyway, as it would acknowledge his advanced level of care. He has advanced medical training beyond the scope of a basic EMT. Diazepam cannot be administered by basic life support providers - it's only in the scope of practice of some Intermediate services and Paramedics.


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