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Paramedic acquitted of sexual assault alleged during ambulance ride

Paramedic acquitted of sexual assault alleged during ambulance ride

A Dane County jury on Wednesday acquitted a former private ambulance paramedic of two sexual assault charges.

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The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for just over five hours before finding Timothy E. Ovadal, 39, of Madison, not guilty of second-degree sexual assault and fourth-degree sexual assault.

The verdicts ended a trial that started Monday, with testimony wrapping up on Tuesday. After the verdicts were read, Ovadal, who was charged more than two years ago, wiped tears from his eyes.

The woman alleged that Ovadal improperly touched and put his mouth on one of her breasts during a medical transport from St. Mary’s Hospital in Janesville to Stoughton Hospital on May 8, 2019. She testified Monday that even though she was highly intoxicated, which led to a fall that sent her to the hospital, she clearly remembered being “violated” by Ovadal in the back of an ambulance as she was strapped to a gurney.

She said it happened as Ovadal removed EKG patches from her chest, which she said made her uncomfortable.

During closing arguments Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Tracy McMiller emphasized that the analysis of a swab from the woman’s breast taken by an evidence technician concluded DNA found there was 90 to 95% Ovadal’s while the woman’s DNA only accounted for about 10%.

“There is no way to get around that DNA evidence no matter what the silly explanation,” McMiller told the jury.

Ovadal’s attorney, Julia Westley, said the DNA wasn’t persuasive because in the pre-COVID time that the incident was alleged to have occurred, Ovadal typically did not wear protective gloves unless dealing with certain situations. That can lead to the transfer of the DNA from one surface to another, she said.

“I would fully expect an EMT taking care of someone in the back of the ambulance would leave DNA,” Westley said.

She added that a monitoring camera video recording shown in court did not match the woman’s testimony and did not show Ovadal in the position the woman said he was in when she alleged he touched her.

McMiller said the camera was not in a position to capture what was happening in the back of the ambulance, and she asserted Ovadal knew that.

Westley also said the woman was inconsistent in recounting events, between her initial statements to police and her testimony on the witness stand Monday. Some things the woman said on the stand, Westley said, she had never told anyone before. And with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.37 percent only a few hours before the transport, she said, she questioned the woman’s perceptions and recollections.

McMiller said, though, that the woman is a “high-functioning” alcoholic who, despite an extreme level of intoxication, was noted in medical records as “alert and oriented” while at St. Mary’s in Janesville.

“We all know she wasn’t sober,” McMiller said. “But she knew what was going on.”

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