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Wisconsin man sentenced for sex assault

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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.

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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.

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