The state Department of Justice investigated GOP state Senate candidate Dave Estenson over misconduct allegations while he was working as a police officer, including that he had sexual relations multiple times with a woman while on duty and in uniform.
Estenson denied in a 2007 interview with a DOJ investigator that he had relations with the woman while on duty or the allegations by another woman that he had threatened to plant evidence in her car if she told anyone they were having a sexual relationship.
The State Senate Democratic Committee released the Department of Justice records on the probe yesterday. The group’s Executive Director Eric LaGesse urged Estenson to drop out of the race against first-term state Sen. Jeff Smith, D-Brunswick, and apologize to his victims.
Estenson acknowledged in a statement making “some poor decisions surrounding my personal relationships,” but said he has no plans to leave the race. Estenson noted no legal action was taken against him.
“Prior to the investigation being concluded, I had already met the woman who is now my wife and had assumed the role of stepfather to her two boys,” he said. “As a husband and father of two girls of our own, my wife and I are striving to instill the family values and morals that I had lost sight of in my youth.”
The DOJ investigation was initiated in early 2005 and included the 2007 interview with Estenson. A state Department of Justice spokeswoman said yesterday the agency doesn’t have a record of the local DA requesting a charging recommendation at the conclusion of the probe.
According to the DOJ records, the investigation began following a complaint against Estenson, who was working as a police officer for Osseo at the time and a part-time officer for Strum. The complaint included second-hand allegations that Estenson solicited sexual favors while working as an officer.
The allegations reference:
*a woman who had a sexual relationship with Estenson who was in a bar underage when he was called due to a fight outside the establishment. The woman said Estenson took her to a back room, where he told her she was putting him in a bad position because he didn’t want to give her a ticket and there were “ways that they could work out the situation.” She said he didn’t specify what he meant, but took it as him hinting on receiving a sexual favor to avoid her receiving a citation for underage drinking.
*another woman who had a nearly yearlong sexual relationship with Estenson who said they had sexual contact between four and six times while he was on duty and in uniform for the Strum Police Department. The woman also told the DOJ investigator Estenson assured her she didn’t have to worry about getting into legal trouble while they were having an intimate relationship. He denied ever being involved with a woman while on duty as a police officer, though he acknowledged he may have told her she didn’t have to worry about getting a ticket while she was with him.
“These are the actions of a perverted sexual predator, not of a valid candidate for legislative office,” La Gesse said. “An individual such as this has no business running to represent the people of Western Wisconsin. I urge Estenson to drop out of the race and both apologize to his victims and to get the help that he clearly needs.”
Read the DOJ report: