Somerset suspect's girlfriend accused of assaulting toddler
Investigation into a Somerset man accused of multiple child sex-related charges led to the discovery of a photo allegedly depicting his girlfriend committing a sexual assault.
Details outlined in a criminal complaint against Somerset resident Jennifer M. Bowers allege she was pictured in a 2014 photo sexually assaulting a 2-year-old boy. Bowers, 43, was charged Tuesday with first-degree sexual assault of a child and sexual exploitation of a child.
Bowers is the girlfriend of Richard A. Maness, the 45-year-old man charged last week with sexual assault of a girl and sexploitation. A search of his bedroom turned up a fireproof safe that contained a handgun, ammunition and photos of child porn.
St. Croix County prosecutors now say the woman depicted in one of those photos was Bowers.
According to a criminal complaint, Bowers is pictured performing a sex act on a child.
Bowers allegedly identified herself as the person in the photo during an interview with St. Croix County sheriff’s investigators. She also identified the boy, but told investigators, “I did not take this picture.”
“I asked Jennifer how we could explain to the district attorney’s office why this image existed,” investigator Brandie Hart wrote in the complaint, “and Jennifer said that she didn’t hurt the child.”
The complaint states Bowers said Maness once accused her of being sexually attracted to children, but she didn’t know why he’d said that.
She denied to investigators that she was sexually attracted to children and denied involvement in the pornographic photos Maness allegedly produced, the complaint states.
A forensic examination of digital versions of the photo extracted from a computer revealed they likely originated from Bowers’ cellphone, according to the charging document.
Bowers made her initial court appearance Tuesday in St. Croix County, where visiting Chippewa County Judge Steven Gibbs from set a $10,000 cash bail amount.