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Attorney General Van Hollen To Seek Supreme Court Review of Case Involving Attempted Sexual Assault of Dead Woman


The Department of Justice will ask the Wisconsin Supreme Court to review a recent court of appeals ruling that held that three men's alleged attempted sexual assault with a dead woman was not forbidden by Wisconsin's sexual assault law.


Last September, Alexander Grunke and his twin brother, Nicholas, both of Ridgeway, and Dustin Radke, of Dodgeville, were charged in Grant County Circuit Court with the attempted sexual assault of a young woman recently interred after a fatal motorcycle accident. According to the criminal complaint and a statement given by one of the defendants, after reading her obituary and seeing the young woman's picture, the three men allegedly bought a box of condoms and then drove to a cemetery in Cassville. There, they allegedly tried to dig up the woman's body so that Nicholas Grunke could have sex with the corpse, but were interrupted and ran away when a vehicle drove into the cemetery after they had dug down to the burial vault.


Wisconsin's sexual assault law contains a provision stating that it applies "whether a victim is dead or alive at the time of the sexual contact or sexual intercourse." The court of appeals ruled on July 26 that the provision was meant only to apply to cases where an assailant murdered and sexually assaulted the same victim and it could not be proven which crime occurred first.


"I believe, and my office argued to the court of appeals, that Wisconsin's current sexual assault law applies whether a victim is dead or alive, regardless of the circumstances causing the victim's death," Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said.


The State's petition for review will be filed with the Wisconsin Supreme Court by August 24, 2007. The Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision to grant the petition and review the court of appeals decision on its merits is discretionary.


The court of appeals' July 26 decision sustained the circuit court's dismissal of the attempted sexual assault charges against the defendants. The defendants have not been tried for the alleged attempted sexual assault and are presumed innocent. The State bears the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Proceedings in the circuit court are postponed while the case is under appeal.


The State was represented in the circuit court by Grant County Assistant District Attorney Anthony Pozorski, Sr. The State was represented in the court of appeals by Assistant Attorney General William L. Gansner.