EAU CLAIRE — A Bloomer man is accused of breaking into a woman’s Eau Claire home last week, hiding in her bedroom closet and then sexually assaulting her.
Robert B. Smith, 41, faces a dozen felony charges and one misdemeanor, including sexual assault, burglary, strangulation and suffocation, false imprisonment and stalking.
Smith was arrested on Saturday and then appeared Monday in Eau Claire County Court where the charges were filed against him.
Judge Michael Schumacher set a high cash bond at $50,000 for Smith’s release.
According to the criminal complaint filed in the case:
A woman who knew Smith called police in the early hours of April 27 to report that he had been outside her house and attempted to get in twice overnight.
On the first attempt that night, the woman’s friend spoke to Smith, who then ran off. In Smith’s second attempt to gain entry, he removed a screen door and an egress window cover in failed attempts to get into the house via a patio door and basement window.
While police were at her home, the women told officers that Smith had broken in earlier last week.
She told police that she saw Smith in her backyard and walking toward her house on the night of April 25, but then lost sight of him. The police investigation determined Smith had climbed up the house and entered through a window that night.
The woman got ready for bed, and Smith emerged from her bedroom closet.
He slapped, punched, strangled and threatened her multiple times. Police officers observed bruises on the woman’s forehead and neck that appeared to corroborate her account.
Smith used a bathrobe string to tie the woman’s hands, and sexually assaulted her twice that night. He then took a shower and left the house at about 3:30 a.m. on April 26.
Police took photographs and collected other evidence at the woman’s home.
After taking the woman’s report on April 27, an Eau Claire police detective called Smith on the phone. Smith claimed he was sleeping at the time the woman said he was trying to get into her house.
When the detective called, Smith claimed he was at work, but his employer later said he’d not shown up for work that day.
Chippewa County sheriff’s deputies arrested Smith on Saturday at a family member’s home.
Smith had previously been convicted in September of stalking and intimidating a victim — the same woman he’s now accused of sexually assaulting. He was out on probation for that case, which included the condition he have no contact with the woman.
Of the new charges against Smith, two counts of second-degree sexual assault are the most severe. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison for each of those charges, plus more prison time due to his status as a repeat offender.