Court Commissioner Alice Rudebusch determined Wednesday there was enough evidence to move forward with the trial of Jodin Froeber, who is accused of sexually assaulting a patient he was transporting to the hospital.
Froeber is a firefighter/EMT with the Somers Fire Department in Kenosha County. He is while taking her to the hospital after she suffered a seizure while working at a Girl Scout camp in Kenosha County. The Trefoil Oaks Program Center is only about one-quarter mile south of the Racine-Kenosha county line.
An amended criminal complaint was presented to the court to correct the victim's age. Originally, the victim was thought to have been a 17-year-old juvenile at the time of the alleged assault, but Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Arndt confirmed that the victim was a 20-year-old woman.
During Froeber's preliminary hearing, Arndt questioned Investigator Brian Vanscyoc of the Racine County Sheriff's office about the details from last summer. The investigator interviewed the victim at her home the day after the alleged incident.
Vanscyoc testified in court that the victim admitted to being extremely tired, but she was aware of her surroundings after the seizure passed.
"She said she was tired and her eyes were heavy, but she was aware of her surroundings," he said.
Vanscyoc said the victim told him the assault allegedly occurred after she was loaded into the back of the ambulance and on the way to Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare-All Saints Hospital in Racine. According to his testimony, the victim said she felt her shirt get pulled up, then she heard the sound of a shutter click like from a camera. She also told the investigator that she felt a hand slide under her underwear and fondle her genitals.
The victim also reportedly told Vanscyoc that three rescue personnel came to her aid, but only one rode in the back of the ambulance with her.
Arndt asked if the victim indicated she was on regular medication for her condition. Vanscyoc said no, but feeling tired after a seizure was normal.
As for Froeber himself, Vanscyoc said that interview took place at the Sheriff's substation on Highway 20 and was based on the victim's claims of an assault.
According to the investigator's testimony, Froeber admitted to being the only rescue personnel in the back of the ambulance with the victim. Froeber also said he administered diazepam to help with the victim's seizure.
Jonathan LaVoy, Froeber's defense attorney, asked a number of questions related to the location of the alleged assault.
"Did she know what city she was in when she was allegedly touched?" he asked. "Or did she ever open her eyes?"
Vanscyoc repeated that the victim reported the incident took place while she was in transport to the hospital, but she couldn't say how much time had passed after she was loaded into the ambulance.
"She said she was extremely exhausted and only opened her eyes briefly," he added. "She could not identify who was in the back of the ambulance with her."
LaVoy also asked whether or not the victim could tell the difference between the clicking of a camera shutter and the sounds of beeping that come from having various monitoring machines hooked up.
Vanscyoc said the victim told him she could hear beeping and that there were leads attached to her chest and abdomen.
The driver of the ambulance, Ryan Nelson, told Vanscyoc that he could hear Froeber moving around in the back of the ambulance but didn't observe him taking any photographs or touching the victim in a sexual manner.
"Did Mr. Froeber deny any sexual touching?" LaVoy asked.
Vanscyoc said the defendant didn't deny or admit to anything other than being in the back of the ambulance during transport.
LaVoy asked Rudebusch for a dismissal based on lack of evidence and that Racine County didn't have jurisdiction because the victim couldn't say where the alleged assault took place.
Arndt objected, saying the assault allegedly took place in transit to a Racine hospital and with Trefoil located just a quarter-mile from the county line, was enough to give Racine County the jurisdiction. Rudebusch agreed with Arndt, saying jurisdiction had been established and there was enough evidence based on testimony to bound Froeber over for trial. His arraignment is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Sept. 5.
Froeber was charged Aug. 16 with one count of second degree sexual assault for allegedly taking photographs and inappropriately touching the victim. She was working at a Girl Scout camp when she suffered a seizure and the alleged assault took place while Froeber treated the young woman in the back of the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
It took a year for charges to be filed in the case because the Department of Criminal Investigation was downloading and analyzing photographs. Those items have been placed into evidence, District Attorney Rich Chiapete confirmed with Patch Wednesday morning, but they will not be made public until or unless this matter goes to trial.
According to Somers Fire Chief Steven Krause on Aug. 17, Froeber has been with the department since 2000 and has a spotless record. He is on paid administrative leave while his case is pending.
If convicted, Froeber faces up to 40 years in prison and/or up to $100,000 in fines.