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Disorderly conduct charges filed against Whitewater judge

Mike Heine/The Week

(Published March. 26, 2007, 9:38 a.m.)

More than a year after a secretary accused Whitewater Municipal Judge Steven C. Spear of forcibly kissing her and then masturbating in front of her in his office, Spear has been charged with disorderly conduct.

Spear is unopposed in his bid for re-election April 3.

The charge stems from a Feb. 28, 2006, incident in Spear's office, according to the criminal complaint filed Wednesday in Walworth County Court.

The case is being prosecuted by the Kenosha County District Attorney's Office to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest with the Walworth County District Attorney's Office.

The secretary told police that Spear, 37, had her come into his office and close the door before telling her that he wanted her and that he wanted to kiss her, according to the complaint.

The woman reminded Spear that he was married and said she did not want to kiss him.

Spear then forcibly tried to kiss her, but she pushed away. She got up to leave, but Spear backed her against a door and again tried to kiss her on the mouth, the complaint reads.

The woman told him to stop. She left the office and went back to her desk "in shock," according to the complaint.

Spear called her a few minutes later and said, "I want you." The woman said to stop and hung up, according to the complaint.

A few minutes later, Spear again summoned the woman into his office. The woman told police she went because she expected Spear to apologize, according to the complaint.

Instead, Spear asked her to shut the door, which she did. The woman then noticed that Spear appeared to be masturbating under his desk, according to the complaint.

He made a sexual comment, said he masturbates every day in his office and said she didn't have to watch if she didn't want to, according to the complaint.

The woman left the office, and Spear later called her, saying, "I'm sorry. I feel bad for you," according to the complaint.

The woman called police later that night. While executing a search warrant at what was then Spear's law office at the firm of Soffa & Devitt, 332 W. Whitewater St., Whitewater, officers reported finding suspected semen samples on his keyboard, computer tower, desk, chair and carpet.

The Wisconsin State Crime Lab found the DNA from the samples matched Spear, according the complaint.

The DNA testing took nearly a year to complete, which is why the charge took so long to issue.

The woman's attorney, Paul Bucher, said the delay from the crime lab is "totally unacceptable."

"The victim of this vulgar and obscene offense has had to live with this every day," he said.

For the past year, the woman has dealt with emotional stress, but she's happy the case is seeing "the light of day," Bucher said.

"She's devastated. She's had to live with this for a long period of time, waiting for the wheels of the criminal justice system to grind out a charge in this case."

Bucher said he planned to file a restraining order today for the woman against Spear.

The Week was unable to reach Spear for comment. His attorney, Frank Lettenberger, declined to comment.

Whitewater city attorney Wally McDonnell said Spear still is the city's municipal judge.

"The city will review whatever takes place," McDonnell said, noting that Spear has only been charged with a crime and not convicted. "Ultimately, we would move forward from there. I know there hasn't been any particular course of action decided upon. It will depend on what happens in this matter."

Spear left the Soffa & Devitt law firm in October 2006, a woman answering the phone there said. He now has his own practice in Whitewater.

If convicted, Spear faces a maximum of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

 

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