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Plea expected in case against Whitewater judge

---Spear has court date Wednesday

Mike Heine/The Week

(Published July 16, 2007, 2:58 p.m.)

Whitewater Municipal Judge Steve Spear will be on the other side of the bench Wednesday.

He is expected to enter a plea in a case where he is accused of trying to forcibly kiss a former secretary at his law office and masturbating under his desk in front of her.

Spear, 38, of 141 N. Oak St., Whitewater, is charged with one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct.

It is unclear what the expected plea agreement will include.

"I'm not going to comment in advance. I don't think it's appropriate for me to do so until all the pieces are together," said Kenosha County Deputy District Attorney Richard Ginkowski.

Ginkowski is handling the case to avoid the perception of conflicts of interest with the Walworth County district attorney's office.

Defense attorney Frank Lettenberger did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Spear was charged in late March, more than a year after the alleged incident.

The secretary told Whitewater police that on Feb. 28, 2006, Spear said he wanted her and that he wanted to kiss her, according to the complaint.

She reminded Spear that he was married and the she did not want to kiss him. He tried anyway, but she pushed away. She got up to leave, but Spear backed her against the door and again tried to kiss her on the mouth, according to the complaint.

Spear later called the woman at her desk and, "I want you." He then summoned her into his office. She went, expecting spear to apologize. He didn't, according to the complaint.

It appeared Spear was masturbating under his desk, the woman told police. Spear told her he masturbates in his office every day, according to the complaint.

The woman left the office and Spear later called her to apologize, according to the complaint.

A search warrant conducted at Spear's former law office at the Soffa and Devitt firm, 332 W. Whitewater St., Whitewater, uncovered semen samples from his keyboard, computer, desk, chair and carpet.

Despite the allegations, Spear, an attorney, ran for municipal judge in April and won against a write-in candidate, 569-184. He was first elected in April 1999.

Whitewater City Manager Kevin Brunner was unsure what would happen after Wednesday.

"He did tell me that this (hearing) was coming up and that this would affect his status as judge," Brunner said. "I have not received anything from him as far as stepping down.

"I'm kind of anxious to see what the court will decide on the case and what action he's going to take."

The court has run without problems since Spear was charged, but the looming allegations have been uncomfortable, Brunner said.

"It's certainly been a very awkward situation because of the fact he's an elected official," he said. "If this was an appointed person, I assume we would have taken action long ago. Since it's beholden to voters and to the court system, that's why nothing has happened up to this point in time."

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