SHEBOYGAN COUNTY -- A Sheboygan man with a history of lewd and lascivious behavior was convicted once again -- after prosecutors said a mother and her young daughter witnessed disturbing behavior at a park in the city.
Ryan Gruenke, 34, of Plymouth on June 13 pleaded no contest to one count of exposing genitals/public area/intimate parts to a child and one count of lewd, lascivious behavior/exposure. Sentencing was set for Aug. 19.
Gruenke in September 2014 pleaded no contest to three counts filed in August 2014 -- lewd, lascivious behavior in public, repeater, disorderly conduct, repeater (two counts). In December 2014, he was sentenced to serve one year in prison and one year extended supervision on each count, to be served concurrently.
In January 2014, Gruenke was charged with lewd, lascivious behavior, exposure, repeater. He pleaded no contest in March 2014, and was sentenced to one year of probation and six months in jail -- which was stayed, and he was placed on probation for a year.
Probation was revoked in October 2014, and he was ordered to serve six months in jail beginning in March 2015.
In August 2013, Gruenke was charged with fourth degree sexual assault, lewd, lascivious behavior, exposure (two counts). He pleaded no contest in October 2013, and was sentenced to serve two years' probation on each conviction, to be served concurrently. Probation was revoked in May 2014, and he was ordered to serve 186 days in jail.
According to a criminal complaint in the most recent case, on March 24, 2019, 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.