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Breaking: Defamation charges sought against Sturdevant accusers
Officer cleared and back on patrol
Jeff Sturdevant
Jeff Sturdevant

MONROE — New Glarus Police Lt. Jeff Sturdevant has been cleared and is back on patrol following an investigation into allegations made against him in an anonymous email sent to area media outlets and members of law enforcement.

Meanwhile, two people suspected of conspiring to send the email face potential criminal charges of defamation and giving false information for publication.

Green County District Attorney Craig Nolen said he is seeking the charges as the result of search warrants executed at two Monroe residences Thursday evening, March 14. The warrants are under seal and were executed with assistance from the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, he said.

Nolen declined to identify the suspects. He described one as a "primary suspect" and the other as "secondary."

Given his working relationship with Sturdevant, who occasionally works as a courtroom bailiff and transport deputy for the Green County Sheriff's Office, Nolen is referring the case to Lafayette County District Attorney Jenna Gill for a charging decision. The charges he is seeking are Class A misdemeanors, which carry a maximum sentence of nine months in jail and $10,000 in fines.
In January, Sturdevant was temporarily taken off patrol in New Glarus and suspended from the sheriff's office pending investigation into the email.

The 935-word message, sent Jan. 16 from a "Concerned Citizen," included specific dates, locations, full names and other identifying details for allegations of misconduct in Green County dating back to 2010. It claimed Sturdevant sexually assaulted a woman in 2013, bought alcohol for underage women in 2010, sexually harassed minors in 2013 and allowed friends to drive drunk in 2018. None of the allegations involved on-duty misconduct.

The Monroe Police Department was tasked, as an outside agency, with investigating the anonymous claims.

Sturdevant, who lives in Monroe and has been with the New Glarus Police Department since 2001, was cleared as a result.

“Nothing added up,” Nolen said. In a statement released Monday, Mach 18, he wrote that he reviewed the Monroe Police Department's reports and "determined that the allegations contained within the email were unfounded.

"I do not believe that it was necessary to send such reports to an outside prosecuting agency for their review, as the alleged victims and witnesses were unable to substantiate any behavior warranting review by an outside agency," he wrote.

An internal investigation by the New Glarus Police Department cleared Sturdevant as well, and he returned to his normal patrol duties Feb. 6, Nolen said.

Sturdevant was returned to patrol after "it was determined that the matter was unfounded," according to New Glarus Chief of Police Burt Boldebuck. "He was never suspended, received time off or anything like that. He was just temporarily reassigned from normal patrol to conducting his regular administrative and other duties within the office on his normal schedule."

The external investigation of Sturdevant, conducted by Det. Sgt. Dan Skatrud, was completed at the end of February and the reports turned over to the District Attorney's Office, said Monroe Chief of Police Fred Kelley. Skatrud interviewed five or six people, Kelley said, noting that Nolen "identified people (to interview) and we based our investigation on those people."

Kelley said that to his knowledge, none of the allegations were ever previously reported to law enforcement. The sexual assault described in the email allegedly occurred in Monroe, but Kelley said it was not reported to his department at the time.

"The first we'd heard of it was this anonymous letter," he said, noting that he didn't see evidence from the investigation to support charges against Sturdevant.
Kelley said his department was not asked to look into the source of the anonymous email.

Sturdevant's work with the New Glarus Police Department since 2001 has garnered high praise and few complaints, according to the performance-related portion of his personnel file, which the Monroe Times obtained through an open records request.

The file contains three complaints.
Most recently, in April 2011, a complaint was filed against Sturdevant for photos on Facebook of "a young woman wearing (his) uniform shirt and holding a handgun."

An investigation by a Green County sheriff's deputy found the photos were posted without Sturdevant's knowledge by a third party and that he had tried to have them deleted when he learned they were taken, according to a "Letter of Understanding" addressed to Sturdevant from Nicholas Owen, then-administrator for the Village of New Glarus.

No formal disciplinary action was taken, but Owen demanded that Sturdevant "be more diligent in ensuring that this situation will not happen again."

In a citizen complaint from November 2006, a woman alleged Sturdevant "spread false rumors about her," but an investigation determined this to be unfounded and she later "took full responsibility for her actions that resulted in a complaint being filed against an officer" and "expressed her apologies for the incident."

The third complaint, from June 2009, resulted in a "Letter of Appreciation" to Sturdevant from then-Chief of Police Steven Allbaugh. The complaint originated from Dane County sheriff's deputies who believed Sturdevant had "tipped off" underage people drinking at a bonfire party near New Glarus in Dane County.

But after reviewing reports from the incident, Allbaugh determined Sturdevant had actually reported the party to authorities after following a car "loaded with juveniles" headed north out of New Glarus.

"So, instead of any disciplinary actions, I want to thank you for your skillful actions to report violations, even outside our jurisdiction," Allbaugh wrote.

After his hiring as a police officer in 2001, Sturdevant was promoted to sergeant in 2004 and to lieutenant in 2017. He served as acting chief after Allbaugh's departure in 2010. The file indicates he submitted a "letter of interest" for the position of chief but later withdrew it.

His file includes dozens of formal commendations as well as informal emailed and handwritten notes of appreciation.

Allbaugh wrote frequent letters commending Sturdevant. Among the good deeds he praised were Sturdevant's role as a first responder in saving a toddler who slipped in a bathtub, his success in applying for grants for the department and his "precise, detailed" investigation that led to the arrest of a man for sexually assaulting an underage girl.

In an "Officer of the Year Nomination" for 2007, Allbaugh wrote that Sturdevant "has demonstrated himself as one of the best officers in this county."

Sturdevant "investigated 1,351 cases in 2007. This is the highest number of cases of any officer for any department. Only two other officers exceeded 1,000 cases for the year," Allbaugh wrote, noting that Sturdevant's "ability to deal with the public, other officers and local government has reflected positively on the reputation of this department and the Village of New Glarus."