JUNEAU – Dodge County Circuit Court Judge Brian Pfitzinger knew he was sentencing a former police officer during a very trying time in U.S. history Tuesday, but said Mark Forster was being judged as an individual using the same criteria as anyone else who is sentenced in his courtroom.
“When the court analyzes cases, it needs to look at all the factors,” Pfitzinger said. “It doesn’t matter if you are a former police officer, employed in another profession or not employed at all.”
Forster, 31, was found guilty of three counts of misconduct in office in January after entering into a plea agreement with the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office. Three additional charges were dismissed, but read into the court record.
Pfitzinger withheld sentencing and placed Forster on five years of probation on Monday. As conditions of his probation, Forster was given a nine-month jail sentence. In addition, he must have a sex offender assessment. He may not have contact with the victims. He may not hold a position of authority and he may not possess a firearm.
According to the criminal complaint, Forster resigned from the Mayville Police Department following an internal investigation by the department. Two community members claimed Forster had a relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
A former administrative assistant for the Mayville Police Department originally denied any knowledge of wrongdoing by Forster, but came to authorities in March 2018. According to the criminal complaint, the administrative assistant said she was aware in 2016 that Forster had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
Shelly Rusch appeared for the state and said the plea agreement was based on the probation sentence. However she did think time in jail would be appropriate.
“This wasn’t a one-time decision,’ Rusch said. “He did this over and over and whenever he felt like it.”
Rusch said that Forster also did not appear to have any remorse for what he had done and that he victimized other police officers.
“All good officers suffer when one bad one misuses the integrity and trust,” Rusch said.
Forster appeared with his attorney Michael Steinle.
Steinle said that Forster never denied anything and agreed to the plea agreement because he did not want to make the victims take the stand during a trial.
“I don’t deny sometimes he sounds like he is denying responsibility,” Steinle said. “He does not show emotion very well.”
Forster spoke to the court and offered apologies for his actions.
“I learn from my mistakes and this was a huge mistake,” he said.
Ryan Vossekuil, Mayville’s former police chief, asked the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation to investigate the claims against Forster.
A DCI special agent received a written statement from the administrative assistant, who said she became aware of Foster’s affair with the teenage girl in July 2016 after the girl told the administrative assistant that she had sexual contact with Forster in two different parks in Mayville. The complaint says the administrative assistant agreed to keep the information to herself when Forster asked, but she began feeling guilty for not coming forward with the information.
The administrative assistant told the DCI special agent that she also had a sexual relationship with Forster in the first six months of 2015 when she was 20. She said the incidents happened during ride-alongs while Forster was on duty.
The teenage girl contacted Vossekuil in April 2018. The girl said she had denied having a physical relationship when initially questioned at age 17 because she was trying to protect Forster. However, she said she later realized his actions were inappropriate. The girl said when she found out that Forster was suing Mayville, which he has lost, to get his job back, she became concerned there would be more victims.
Rusch said that after Forster was fired that he would have most likely had gotten away with the crime if he had not sued the city for $175,000 seeking to regain his job.
Follow Terri Pederson on Twitter @tlp53916 or contact her at 920-356-6760.
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