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Spandex man loses appeal

An appeals court ruled that a man who wore spandex pants as he accosted several Hudson area women and forced himself on a River Falls motel desk clerk deserves to spend life in prison.

In November 2006, a St. Croix County jury found Michael S. Long, now 39, guilty of false imprisonment and second-degree sexual assault, use of force.

Judge Edward Vlack used the persistent repeater enhancer to sentence Long, formerly of Brooklyn Park, Minn., to life in prison. Internet court records show he is currently an inmate at a prison in St. Cloud, Minn.

In a decision released Tuesday morning, the District III Court of Appeals found the prosecution had presented sufficient evidence on both St. Croix counts and that the persistent repeater penalty enhancer, based on prior Minnesota convictions, was appropriate.

According to background in the ruling and information in court files, on Oct. 24, 2004, Long, who was wearing white spandex shorts, approached a Country Inn & Suites desk clerk and asked her evaluation of the pants and himself. As the woman started to back away, said the appeals court ruling, Long "grabbed her and held her tightly and forcefully from the front and from behind..."

Long argued that the prosecution failed to prove the sexual contact was by force and without the woman's consent.

"One confines or restrains another if he deprives her of freedom of movement or compels her to remain where she does not want to remain," wrote the court. The three-judge panel found the woman's testimony provided sufficient evidence to support the jury's guilty verdicts.

Also, said the appeals court, Judge Vlack properly applied the persistent repeater enhancement to Long's sentence.

Long argued his Minnesota burglary conviction would have been a misdemeanor, not a felony, in Wisconsin because the crime he committed after illegal entry would have been considered fourth-degree sexual assault in this state.

In the Minnesota case, Long, again dressed in spandex pants, got into an elevator with a couple of women, made suggestive remarks to them and followed them into their apartment. He left and then returned to the apartment, entering without permission, and continued his remarks, pulled one woman's clothing off and grabbed her buttocks.

Because of the force used in committing the Minnesota assault, it would have been second-degree sexual assault if committed in Wisconsin, concluded the appeals court.

Four St. Croix County counts of misdemeanor disorderly conduct and one of lewd and lascivious behavior were dismissed by the prosecutor.

In those cases Long allegedly entered Hudson businesses in April and June of 2003 and a New Richmond business in November 2005 and attempted to draw women into sexual conversations.