POLK COUNTY – The Court has ordered a $10,000 signature bond with a $1,000 cash component for Benjamin Chenal, a Frederic High School football coach, who is charged with Class H Felony Sexual Assault of a Student by School Staff.
The criminal complaint states that on January 28, 2022, law enforcement received a report from a parent and a juvenile stating that the juvenile had been sexually assaulted by Chenal in June 2021. In addition to coaching football, Chenal was the supervisor of the weight room, according to the criminal complaint. The juvenile went to the weight room prior to school on a particular date in June 2021. Chenal was also there in the weight room.
A forensic interview was completed with the juvenile victim who stated that while they were working out with the weights, Chenal was staring at them and then moved over near the juvenile victim, commenting on the leggings the victim was wearing. Chenal then allegedly touched the victim’s buttock area before sliding his hand down the victim’s thigh. The criminal complaint states that Chenal said, "this feels nice," and made statements about how the victim and Chenal could have fun. Chenal allegedly also said that he could close the garage doors on the weight room so no one could see them, and made reference to Chenal and the victim having sex.
Chenal went on to pull the victim’s body close to his and placed one hand inside the victim’s shirt and under their victim’s underclothing, touching and squeezing the victim’s chest area and slid his other hand between the victim’s thighs placing pressure on the victim’s private area.
At this time, a vehicle drove past the weight room ‘shed’ according to the criminal complaint, and Chenal stopped what he was doing, stating, "that was a close one."
The criminal complaint goes on to state that also at around this same time, the victim’s phone had an alarm go off. Chenal asked the victim who it was, the victim stated it was an alarm for the victim to go to work and the victim then left the weight room. Later, the victim received a message from Chenal, telling the victim to not tell anyone what happened.
Law enforcement interviewed Chenal about the allegations. Chenal stated that he had probably been talking to the alleged victim to inspire them to work out and kept stating that he never went too far. Chenal said, "I don’t feel I did anything wrong," and when asked about that, he kept stating that nothing happened.
Online circuit court records show that Chenal appeared in Polk County Circuit Court on February 1, 2022, regarding his charges and the Court ordered a $10,000 signature bond with a $1,000 cash component. Chenal is scheduled to appear again for a preliminary examination hearing on February 22, 2022.
Pursuant to the direction of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, as found in Supreme Court Rule 20:3.6, Trial Publicly, you are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.