Ex-Sheboygan mayor facing sexual assault charges

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) --  Former Sheboygan Mayor Bob Ryan has been charged with two counts of misdemeanor sexual assault stemming from the same drinking binge in Elkhart Lake last July that triggered a recall election and led to his ouster in February.

Court records show that Ryan was charged Thursday with two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, the Sheboygan Press reported Friday. If convicted, he would face a maximum of nine months jail and a fine of $10,000 on each count. He's due to make his initial court appearance April 23.

Ryan and his attorney did not immediately return phone calls from The Associated Press seeking comment on the charges.

Details of the allegations were not immediately available. The criminal complaint was not available Friday because the courthouse closed early, and District Attorney Joe DeCecco was not immediately reachable. Wisconsin statutes define fourth-degree sexual assault, often called molestation, as non-consensual sexual contact that does not include intercourse, or the use of force or threats of violence.

Ryan's tenure was marred by a sexual harassment lawsuit and multiple allegations of drunken, boorish behavior, the newspaper noted.

In the Elkhart Lake incident, Ryan got into a barroom scuffle, and pictures of him passed out in a bar were posted on the Internet. Eyewitnesses also said he was loud and rude, and made suggestive remarks to women. He acknowledged afterward that he was an alcoholic, but he also maintained that he'd done nothing illegal in that incident.

While investigators referred the misdemeanor sexual assault case to the district attorney Dec. 7 with a recommendation that Ryan be charged, DeCecco said he decided not to expedite the case in favor of prosecuting more serious crimes where suspects were in jail awaiting charges. Ryan predicted during a mayoral debate Feb. 14 that he would be exonerated if the district attorney ever charged him.