Wisconsin man sentenced for sex assault

We are part of The Trust Project.

A Wisconsin man was sentenced last Thursday to 41 months in prison for sexually assaulting a Rochester woman in 2012 at the Olmsted County Free Fair, the result of DNA match made to a registered offender nearly two years after the assault.

Robert Michael Viner, 57, was sentenced for third-degree criminal sexual conduct, a felony sentence, in Olmsted County District Court.

Viner will serve 41 months in prison — he'll be sent to the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud for evaluation, where the Minnesota Department of Corrections will determine the proper custody level for Viner and conduct a mental health evaluation, after which he'll be sent to another facility.

After serving the sentence Viner will be under a 10-year conditional release.

According to the criminal complaint, the victim was walking home from her shift at Seneca Foods around 10 p.m. on July 26, 2012, when Viner grabbed her and dragged her off the sidewalk. The assailant allegedly began choking her so she could not breathe or scream and sexually assaulted her.


The victim was taken to the emergency room at Mayo Clinic Hospital-Saint Marys Campus, where she reported the assault. Rochester police officers searched the area for evidence but found nothing. The investigation was complicated by the fact the fair was taking place a few blocks away and many people walked by during the search, according to the complaint.

The victim's sexual assault kit was sent to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for analysis. On July 29, 2014, the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory matched the DNA evidence in the kit to Viner, a convicted sex offender.

Officers went to Viner's residence on Sept. 8, 2014, to obtain new DNA for additional testing. It was matched again on Sept. 26. Viner admitted he was in Rochester, staying in a camper on the fairgrounds property during the 2012 fair, but denied having sexual contact with anyone during his visit.

"The predominant DNA profile from victim's sexual assault kit matches the DNA profile of Viner and would not be expected to occur more than once among unrelated individuals in the world population," reads the complaint.

Viner was previously convicted of fourth-degree sexual assault in La Crosse County in Wisconsin.

What to read next
Sanford Health’s Program for Addiction Recovery provided Tanner Lene a way to connect to a heritage he’d left largely unexplored, as he began to learn Ojibwe and join classes taught by elders and knowledge keepers on traditional medicines and art.
"Minding Our Elders" columnist Carol Bradley Bursack says distance makes keeping track of your parents' health harder, but barring dementia, they get to choose where they live.
Ticks can survive a Minnesota winter, but their go time is March through October. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams goes in-depth with a tick expert who helped discover two pathogens that ticks can carry. And both of them can make you sick.
Sound and electrical stimulation may offer hope for people suffering from chronic pain and other conditions. Researchers are exploring the combination with the goal of developing treatments that are safer and more accessible than opioid medication. Viv Williams has details of a new study in this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion."