Note: This article was published at 2:02 am, Feb. 23, 2021
MADISON – A state appeals court Tuesday upheld a New Richmond man’s three first-degree child sexual assault convictions, rejecting his claim that drinking a 5-year-old child’s urine wasn’t sexually gratifying, a necessary element of the offense.
At trial, Richard Lee Zeier, now 73, contended that drinking urine from the boy’s penis wasn’t sexually motivated or even inherently sexual. Instead, Zeier had told investigators that he liked the taste of urine, that he wouldn’t let (the drinking) happen again and that he did it because he was gay, according to documents filed with the court.
However, Zeier also told the investigator that he could have drunk urine from a sexual partner at some time in the past. Jurors heard the videotape of the statements Zeier gave to the investigator.
Zeier admitted at trial that he forced a boy in the community known to him to urinate in Zeier’s mouth on three incidents between May and June 2014.
Jurors did struggle with reaching unanimous verdicts, deliberating for an afternoon, into the evening and part of the next morning when they notified Judge Scott Needham that they reached an impasse.
Over Zeier’s attorney’s objection, Needham instructed jurors to continue trying to reach an agreement on the verdicts, which they did Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2021, after another hour of deliberations.
The District III Court of Appeals found that there was sufficient proof to convict Zeier including his own statements which “showed a consciousness of guilt.”
“He asked the victim’s grandmother ‘not to report it, because he didn’t want to get in trouble.’ Moreover, he told the grandmother that if she ‘didn’t call the police … he would be willing to help" her with the rent, according to the appeals opinion.
Zeier also told the investigator that he understood why the grandmother would be “a little ticked off,” and that it wasn’t a “normal thing.” The appeals court also reiterated that Zeier drank the urine of sexual partners.
“This admission, coupled with his statements to the victim’s grandmother tending to show Zeier knew he had acted wrongly, provided a reasonable inference from which a jury could find that Zeier’s drinking urine from the victim’s penis was done with the intent to become sexually aroused or gratified,” according to the 14-page unsigned opinion.
A call to Zeier’s appeals attorney, Cole Ruby, for comment was immediately returned.
In April 2018, Needham sentenced Zeier to 3.5 years in prison followed by eight years supervised release. Zeier was placed on the sex offender registry for the remainder of his life.
Zeier is incarcerated in the Oshkosh Correctional Institution, according to online records.