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Police chief charged with sexual assault, misconduct in office

A western Wisconsin police chief faces multiple felonies after allegedly sexually assaulting a female officer who reported to him.

St. Croix County District Attorney Michael Nieskes, working as special prosecutor for the Polk County District Attorney's Office, charged Clayton Police Chief Grant Pickard with four counts of felony misconduct in public office, two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and one count each of sending an obscene computer message and lewd and lascivious behavior.

Pickard, 38, appeared in court Friday, Sept. 8, where Polk County Circuit Court Judge Jeffery Anderson set $10,000 cash bond. Bond conditions include no contact with the alleged victim or any police equipment.

St. Croix County Sheriff's Office investigator Brandie Hart was tasked with investigating the case after it was turned over to her agency Sept. 1 by Polk County authorities.

According to a criminal complaint, the part-time officer reported being the target of "scores of inappropriate sexual comments" and the victim of nonconsensual sexual contact from Pickard while on duty in Clayton, a Polk County community located about 30 miles northeast of New Richmond.

Other instances cited by the complainant included a summer 2016 encounter that began with her and Pickard drinking together at a bar before going to her house where they had sex. The complaint states the woman first told Pickard to leave before he got into bed with her.

The woman also turned over sexually charged Facebook messages from Pickard that included one reading "You know when Grant's happy we both get what we want."

Hart interviewed Pickard, who admitted to some sexual contact with the officer, but argued it was "just two consenting adults having fun," according to the complaint.

Hart reminded Pickard of the position of authority he had over her.

"I told Grant that the issue was that he was the chief of police and (the woman) was his subordinate," Hart wrote in the report. "I asked Grant if he understood that and he said he did. Grant asked me, 'And that's what, misconduct in office?'"

Hart then arrested Pickard on suspicion of misconduct in office.

A preliminary hearing in the case was set for Sept. 13 in Polk County.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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