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Mayo Clinic doctor in La Crosse pleads not guilty to three charges of child sexual assault

Court documents indicate Joseph Thomas Poterucha, 40, posted his $25,000 bond with conditions he doesn't have any contact with anyone under the age of 18, and that he is currently residing in Rochester.

Joseph Thomas Poterucha.jpg
Joseph Thomas Poterucha
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LA CROSSE, Wis. -- A Mayo Clinic Health Systems pediatrician who was charged with three counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child younger than 13 pleaded not guilty Wednesday.

Each charge carries a maximum 60-year prison sentence.

Joseph Thomas Poterucha, 40, of La Crosse, pleaded not guilty to all three charges and waived his right to a preliminary hearing in La Crosse Circuit Court, according to court documents. Court documents say Poterucha posted his $25,000 bond with conditions he doesn't have any contact with anyone younger than 18, and that he is currently residing in Rochester.

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Poterucha was arrested and charged on Oct. 15 after La Crosse police were called about an incident that occurred two days earlier with a girl, according to the criminal complaint the La Crosse Tribune cited.

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According to an amended complaint filed Wednesday, Oct. 20, an investigation stemming from the first case led police to pursue at least two other accusations. One involved a girl who was interviewed by La Crosse police on Oct. 14. She told police that Poterucha abused her multiple times and exhibited lewd behavior in her presence. Two more charges were brought against him the next day.

Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse placed Poterucha on administrative leave and made this statement to the Tribune following his arrest:

“Mayo Clinic Health System has been informed of the charges involving Dr. Poterucha. Mayo is cooperating with law enforcement, and information Mayo has at this time indicates the charges are not related to his care of patients,” the statement said. “Under the circumstances, Mayo has placed Dr. Poterucha on administrative leave as it conducts its own investigation into the situation.”

A pre-trial conference is set for Jan. 7 and a status conference is set for April 7.

Erich is a digital content producer at the Post Bulletin where he creates content for the Post Bulletin's digital platforms. Before he moved to Rochester, Erich worked as a sports reporter for Rivals.com covering the University of Illinois' athletic programs in Champaign, Illinois. Readers can reach Erich at 507-285-7681 or efisher@postbulletin.com.
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