A panel of St. Croix County residents will determine the fate of Dan Steffen. Steffen, the former Burnett County Assistant District Attorney is facing three charges of capturing an intimate representation, a Class I felony. Steffen, an Osceola resident, entered pleas of not guilty last Friday during a Polk County hearing.
Hearing discussion prompted a jury trial to be set for Oct. 24-28 in Hudson where the presiding judge in the case, Scott Nordstrand, resides.
Both Steffen’s attorney, Eric J. Nelson and prosecuting attorney, Assistant Attorney General David Maas, agreed that the trial shouldn’t be made up of Polk County jurors.
“It would prejudice the defendant by having a Polk County jury,” said Maas.
Nelson, who was of the attorneys representing Derek Chauvin in his murder trial in Minneapolis last year, also argued for St. Croix County due to a much larger juror population. St. Croix County’s population is about twice the size of Polk’s.
Added Judge Nordstrand, as he was approving that change, “He’s made a run for District Attorney, Judge and he grew up here.”
There was brief discussion of busing in jurors from another county, but logistics and finances squashed that.
It was then decided to have the trial in St. Croix County with jurors from St. Croix County. Both sides believe the jury won’t have to be sequestered.
The law defines capturing an intimate representation as “captures an intimate representation without the consent of the person depicted under circumstances in which he or she has a reasonable expectation of privacy, if the person knows or has reason to know that the person who is depicted does not consent to the capture of the intimate representation.”
Steffen, 52, was charged in Feb. 2021 with recording sexual encounters with two women secretly. One of the women alleges the relationship was in exchange for leniency in an ongoing case.
According to the criminal complaint, in 2020 Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) – Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) opened an investigation after an agent learned a woman had openly talked about a sexual relationship with Steffen.
The victims in the complaint are identified only as victim #1 and victim #2.
DCI Special Agent Mary Van Schoyck interviewed victim #1, who was in Burnett County jail at the time, denied the relationship in Feb. 2020 and said she only met Steffen a couple of times in court.
At that time, she had several open cases in Burnett County.
Then in May, victim #1 admitted to the relationship. She told investigators that Steffen had given her his cellphone number and began texting shortly after that.
Victim #1 said she had sex with Steffen at her residence, his residence and in his office during work hours.
When SA Van Schoyck executed a search warrant at Steffen's home, she found evidence of an ongoing relationship with victim #1. They seized an iPad from Steffen's Osceola home.
On the iPad, agents discovered videos of victim #1 having sex with Steffen.
In one video, Steffen asks victim #1, "Who's in charge?" In the video, he looks at the camera and winks several times.
SA Van Schoyck asked victim #1 about the video and she confirmed it was her. She also told agents she did not know she was being filmed.
Victim #2 was in a third video on the iPad. When agents questioned her, she confirmed it was her in the video. Their relationship was identified as mostly hookups. Victim #2 was also unaware she was being recorded and did not give consent to be filmed.
The maximum sentence for these felony charges is 3 1⁄2 years per count and a possible $10,000 fine.