A Wausau paramedic was arrested Monday on charges of sexually assaulted a woman under his care. The fire department now is working to regain the community’s trust.
Police on Monday arrested Clifford Heiser, 33, a Wausau firefighter/EMT, following an investigation into an assault reported to police on Sept. 13. A 29-year-old woman told police that on Sept. 12, Heiser assaulted her while she was being transported from her home to the hospital following a welfare check, according to the criminal complaint.
Police interviewed Heiser, who admitted to being alone with the woman in the back of the ambulance as long as 14 minutes while a female EMT went to the front of the ambulance. According to police reports, Heiser removed the victim’s clothing and assaulted her with his hands while she lay in the ambulance.
Heiser was placed on administrative leave as the complaint was investigated. Heiser was arrested after DNA evidence from the crime lab linked him to the assault, says Deputy Police Chief Ben Bliven. Bliven says in 18 years at the Wausau Police Department he doesn’t remember anything like that happening before, or even hearing of it happening elsewhere.
Heiser faces charges of third and fourth degree sexual assault and misconduct in office. Heiser had been with the department for four years.
Wausau Fire Chief Tracey Kujawa spoke about the need to rebuild trust with the public in the wake of the arrest of a firefighter/EMT on suspicion of sexually assaulting a woman under his care.
The allegations have rattled the city’s fire department personnel, who are shocked that one of their coworkers could have committed such a crime, says Fire Chief Tracey Kujawa. She acknowledged the breach of trust the department faces with the public and said it’s an emotional time for Wausau’s firefighters. “We are not above working hard to regain that trust,” Kujawa says.
The department will review all of its relevant policies in the wake of the allegations, and is considering changes such as installing cameras in ambulances. The department when hiring new employees conducts criminal background checks and screens for felony offenses, repeat offenses and offenses related to the job, Kujawa says.
Heiser is jailed on a $2,500 cash bond and a $25,000 signature bond, which requires at least two cosigners, according to court records. He faces as much as 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted.