SHEBOYGAN COUNTY -- A Sheboygan man with a history of lewd and lascivious behavior dating back to 2013 is accused once again -- after prosecutors said a mother and her young daughter witnessed disturbing behavior at a park in the city.
Ryan Gruenke, 34, faces the following charges:
According to a criminal complaint, on March 24, officers responded to Maywood Environmental Park on Mueller Road near Calumet Drive in Sheboygan, where they found Gruenke touching himself near a mother and her 11-year-old daughter.
The mother advised she and her daughter were walking when Gruenke began following them -- pulling down his pants and touching himself. She said her daughter "got upset and began to cry."
The woman called police, who took Gruenke into custody without incident.
The complaint said the incident was caught on camera. A still photo from the video was compared with a booking photo of Gruenke, and investigators determined he was the one the mother and daughter saw in the park.
Investigators spoke with Gruenke, who indicated he had been at a relative's house and decided to go for a bike ride when he "got a little feeling" and that he wanted to do something "to get his feeling out." He said he went to the park for a walk and when he went to the bathroom, "that's when it happened." He said he "didn't want to do it," but he was "pulling it out and they saw it." He admitted to seeing the mother, but said he "did not see the little girl right away." The complaint said he initially denied touching himself, and said he only exposed himself.
The complaint said Gruenke was previously convicted of lewd and lascivious behavior in public and disorderly conduct in Sheboygan County, convicted in September 2014.
"It is scary because you think you're out in the woods in a natural place and all of a sudden there's this kind of stuff going on," said Anita Braatz, concerned parent.
FOX6 News covered that previous incident, which took place on Aug. 28, 2013.
The criminal complaint said a man wearing nothing but a Speedo bathing suit approached her and “asked her if her name was Christine, at which point she said no.” The complaint indicated “the man then reached out and grabbed her left breast” and ran away laughing. A short time later, the complaint indicated the same man was seen running down a grassy hill completely naked. Multiple police squads responded to the area to search for the suspect, but they were not successful.
The complaint indicated a detective investigating this case reviewed a number of similar incidents in the area and identified Gruenke as a potential suspect because he had an extensive history of suspicious activity, including a previous conviction for lewd and lascivious behavior in 2010.
When the detective when to talk with Gruenke, he initially denied groping the woman’s breast, but according to the complaint, he “then said it was possible.”
The complaint also said Gruenke told police “he has a problem and can’t stop, comparing it to an addiction. He stated he gets a strange feeling inside and then he goes naked in public. He admitted to being naked in Sheboygan in public 30 to 35 times in 2013.
He was sentenced in that case in December 2014 -- ordered to serve one year in prison on each of three convictions (one count of lewd and lascivious behavior, repeater and two counts of disorderly conduct, repeater), along with one year extended supervision -- to be served concurrently.
In January 2014, he was charged with lewd and lascivious behavior -- exposure, repeater. He pleaded no contest in March 2014 and was sentenced to one year probation, with six months conditional jail time, which was stayed. His probation was revoked in October 2014 and he was sentenced to six months in jail.
In August 2013, he was charged with fourth degree sexual assault and two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior -- exposure. He pleaded no contest in October 2013 and was sentenced to two years probation, with 90 days conditional jail time that was stayed. His probation was revoked in May 2014, and he was ordered to serve 186 days in jail.
He made his initial appearance in court in the latest case on March 27. Probable cause was found for further proceedings, and a preliminary hearing was set for April 3. Cash bond was set at $10,000 during a bail/bond hearing on March 26.