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Former Burlington Cop Put on Probation and Sentenced to Jail For Assault

June 17, 2019 4:45p

(WGTD)---A woman who was sexually assaulted by an on-duty Burlington police officer said she reported the incident in part because she was convinced he'd do it again to another victim if she didn't act. 

31-year-old Matthew Baumhardt, who has since resigned, was sentenced Monday to three years' probation and a year in the county jail by Judge Wynne Laufenberg. The sentence was three months harsher than what the defense and prosecution had recommended under a plea bargain. Judges are not bound to follow such agreements. 

Laufenberg said that up until the time of the assault Baumhardt had been living the "American dream" and had led an exemplary life but then threw it all away with a series of bad decisions.  

The assault occurred in the early morning hours of July 28th after the woman had an argument with her boyfriend at a wedding reception and was unable to secure a ride home. Inebriated, the woman started walking but tripped on some railroad tracks and fell. That's when she spotted Baumhardt and his patrol car. He agreed to give her a ride home, but they wound up in a secluded area, where Baumhardt raped the woman before driving her home. 

In court Monday, the victim said it appeared to her that Baumhardt was looking for an opportunity on the night in question, and she was it. She said she's still suffering from the effects of the assault. "I'd like to be able to walk to my car from my night classes without having an anxiety attack," she said. "I'd like to have a relationship and not shudder at the thought of somebody touching me."

In sentencing Baumhardt, Judge Laufenberg said the seven-year veteran of the department had plenty of opportunities to do the right thing when he came across the woman who'd been crying and was injured in the fall. Laufenberg noted that Baumhardt--under questioning from a Racine County Sheriff's Dept. investigator two days later--re-victimized the woman when he suggested the sex was consensual and that she was trying to blackmail him. 

Reading from a statement, Baumhardt indicated tht he now takes full responsibility for the incident, and apologized to the victim. 

Baumhardt will serve his sentence in Fond du Lac County, where he's moved with his wife and two small children and secured a job in a lumber yard. Baumhardt told the judge that his main focus is to keep his family together. His wife sat in court with supporters sobbing much of the time.

Laufenberg praised the victim, saying she appreciated her bravery and eloquence.