Milwaukee Fire Department acting lieutenant charged with second degree sexual assault

Man accused of groping, racist remarks

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee Fire Department employee has been charged with second degree sexual assault.

35-year-old Michael Peden was formally charged Thursday after an arrest over the weekend.

According to the criminal complaint, Peden repeatedly harassed one of his female employees at Engine 26 between May and October of 2017, when he was serving as acting lieutenant. Peden reportedly groped the employee multiple times, and tried to force her hand on his clothed crotch. 

Peden is also accused of continuously referring to the woman as a "piece of s***, who still needed to prove herself and "couldn't do anything right." He also apparently made racist comments to the woman, who is Hispanic.

The complaint explains that the woman's family and close friends noticed that there was a significant change in both her appearance and demeanor during the period of harassment. She lost 30 pounds during the same time frame, it says.

If convicted, Peden faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

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