WAUSAU - A person entrusted to take care of people now faces more than 10 years in prison.
Prosecutors charged former Wausau paramedic Clifford "CJ" Heiser in a sex assault case. Heiser worked as a paramedic with the fire department for four years.
Wausau Fire Chief Tracey Kujawa was visibly emotional during a press conference held on Tuesday.
"We as a department are very humbled today. There is no department or organization that believes that this type of accusation would ever be brought against one of their members," said Kujawa.
A 29-year-old Wausau woman accused Heiser of assaulting her in an ambulance as she was being transported to the hospital. There were two emergency responders in the ambulance, Heiser and the driver.
Evidence collected through a sexual assault exam found that the saliva on the woman's breast matched Heiser's DNA.
When the police department was notified of the DNA results, they arrested him.
"I'm really grateful that this victim came forward. It allowed us the opportunity and the fire department the opportunity to hold this person accountable and to bring them to justice so that this does not happen in the future," said Wausau Deputy of Police Ben Bliven.
Kujawa also spoke about different changes that may be made in the department to ensure safety for future patients. One of those ideas is to install cameras in all ambulances.
"We believe that our department members are upstanding citizens and we believe in the fact that they will do the right thing day in and day out, so we're not afraid to put cameras in the back of the ambulances," said Kujawa.
Potential additional changes to operational and hiring practices were mentioned, but those are not firm ideas at this point.
Kujawa also said that members of the fire department realize they violated community trust, but they will work diligently to repair it. She also urges the community to recognize the actions of one should not extend to all.
Heiser has been charged with 3rd degree sexual assault, 4th degree sexual assault, and misconduct in office.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Wausau Fire Department sent the following press release:
On September 25th, Wausau Fire Department Firefighter/Paramedic Clifford (CJ) Heiser was arrested by the Wausau Police Department after receiving DNA results concerning a criminal investigation of an alleged sexual assault while on duty. The initial complaint was filed with the Wausau Police Department on September 13th by a 29 year old female patient from the Wausau area after being transported by a Wausau Fire Department ambulance from the scene to an area hospital. No other Wausau Fire Department personnel were part of the allegation.
Once the fire department was made aware of the criminal investigation, Firefighter/Paramedic Heiser was placed immediately on administrative leave from the Department. Heiser is scheduled to appear in the Marathon County Courthouse on September 26th, on felony sexual assault charges. The Wausau Fire Department continues to be cooperative inthe ongoing criminal investigation. As always, it is our desire to see justice for victims of crime.
The Wausau Fire Department is deeply concerned about these allegations of illegal and inappropriate behavior by one of their members. We are committed to our mission and the safety and security of the citizens we serve. Firefighter/Paramedic Heiser was on administrative leave until this morning when he resigned his position as a Firefighter/Paramedic for the Wausau Fire Department. Short and long term
solutions for the protection of future patients and Wausau Fire Department personnel are actively being
The Wausau Fire Department, the Wausau Police Department, and the Mayor will be conducting a joint press conference at 3:30 PM on Tuesday, September 26th in the Council Chambers at City Hall.
Newswatch 12 will have a reporter at the press conference.