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MADISON - The Wisconsin Supreme Court has granted the Department of Justice's petition 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, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today. The question presented for the Court's review is whether Wisconsin's sexual assault law, which states that it applies "whether a victim is dead or alive at the time of the sexual contact or sexual intercourse," criminalizes sexual contact or intercourse with a dead victim. 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 and will argue to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, 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. "I am pleased that the Wisconsin Supreme Court decided to consider this important issue."
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.
The Grant County Circuit Court dismissed the attempted sexual assault charges against the defendants, and the court of appeals affirmed the dismissal. Proceedings in the circuit court are postponed while the case is under appeal.
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.
The State's brief on the merits of its appeal is due to be filed with the Supreme Court by December 6, 2007.
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 and is represented in the Wisconsin Supreme Court by Assistant Attorney General William L. Gansner.