By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — A former Wausau paramedic and firefighter will spend one year in the Marathon County Jail and four years on probation after being sentenced Tuesday on charges of misconduct in office and sexually assaulting a patient in an ambulance.
Clifford “CJ” Heiser, 34, was convicted Tuesday, Sept. 17 in Marathon County Circuit Court after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors, the same date a jury trial was set to begin. During the hearing Heiser was convicted of two counts each of fourth degree sexual assault and misconduct in office. The misconduct charges are both felonies.
Additional charges were dismissed but were read into the record for consideration at sentencing.
On Nov. 26 Circuit Judge Greg Huber sentenced Heiser to 3 1/2 years in prison on the felony misconduct charge, but imposed and stayed the sentence, ordering Heiser to spend four years on probation. That means if Heiser successfully completes probation, he will avoid prison time.
Heiser is also required to register as a sex offender and remain on the registry for 15 years.
An investigation began in September 2017 after a then-29-year-old patient came forward accusing Heiser of sexually assaulting her in the back of an ambulance. He was arrested by Wausau police after they received DNA results that showed Heiser’s saliva on the woman’s breast. Heiser was transporting the woman to a local hospital when the assault took place.
The Wausau Fire Department placed Heiser on administrative leave when the investigation began. He resigned shortly afterward.
In a September 2017 news conference Wausau Fire Chief Tracey Kujawa told reporters that short- and long-term solutions for the protection of future patients and Wausau Fire Department personnel would actively be pursued, which could include placing cameras inside the back of emergency vehicles.
During the same news conference then-Wausau Deputy Chief of Police Ben Bliven, who is now Wausau’s police chief, acknowledged the difficult nature of sexual assault allegations and the courage victims must have to come forward with a complaint.
“Our charge is to find the truth of the matter, no matter where it leads us,” Bliven said.
A visibly emotional Kujawa told reporters the entire department was shaken by the allegations.
“We know we have a trust issue with the community,” Kujawa said. “We want to let people know that we will move forward; we will align as a department.”
Raw video: Wausau Fire Chief Tracey Kujawa addresses reporters on Sept. 26, 2017: