By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — A former corrections officer will spend 90 days in jail and pay a $1,500 fine after reaching a plea deal on charges of sexually assaulting an inmate while working at the Marathon County Jail.
Jennifer Kowalski, of Wausau, was employed by the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department from October 2006 until October 2015. She was sentenced Wednesday in Marathon County Circuit Court, nearly two years after charges were filed against her.
Kowalski was fired after allegations surfaced in 2015 about inappropriate behavior during her employment at the jail. The Everest Metro Police Department spearheaded the investigation.
Court filings show Kowalski, now 40, was supervising a male inmate at a local hospital when she was overheard talking with the inmate about performing oral sex. Kowalski is also accused of hugging and kissing the inmate and sending him sexually suggestive letters during his incarceration at the jail.
Kowalski denied the allegations and the inmate later told investigators he did have a relationship with Kowalski, but only after she was fired from her job at the jail.
Prosecutors ultimately charged Kowalski on Feb. 9, 2017 with second degree sexual assault by corrections staff, misconduct in office, fourth degree sexual assault and two counts of obstruction.
Lincoln County Circuit Judge Jay Tlusty handled the Marathon County case to avoid a conflict of interest.
On the second degree sexual assault and misconduct charges, Kowalski entered into a deferred sentencing agreement in which will allow for those charges to be dismissed entirely if she follows the terms of her probation and avoids any new charges for three years.
Tlusty ordered a withheld sentence for the fourth degree sexual assault charge and one of the obstruction charges, which means that if she violates her probation, Kowalski will be required to appear before the judge for a new sentencing hearing on those charges.
But Kowalski was convicted on one count of obstruction, a misdemeanor, and ordered to spend 90 days in jail, spend three years on probation and perform 150 hours of community service.