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Man sentenced in New Richmond public nudity case

A New Richmond man with a history of being nude in public was sentenced to jail this month after being convicted in St. Croix County Circuit Court.

St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Scott Needham sentenced Chris C. Heathfield to 37 days of time served in jail after the 23-year-old pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct. One count of lewd and lascivious conduct was dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

New Richmond police arrested Heathfield in August after seeing him running naked near the Paperjack Greenway trail. The incident followed previous complaints from the public about a nude man hiding in the bushes along the trail and jumping out at people.

Heathfield later told police he’d been arrested for the same kind of behavior the previous year in River Falls.

According to a criminal complaint:

A New Richmond officer on patrol at 11 a.m. Aug. 29 noticed a shirtless man in the trail’s parking lot. The officer continued patrolling the area — initially assuming the man was a jogger — until recalling previous reports of a nude man jumping out at people along Paperjack Trail.

The officer went back for another look.

“This time I could see his entire body and he ran away,” the complaint states. “… he was not wearing any pants, shorts or underwear and his entire buttocks was exposed.”

The man, later identified as Heathfield, ran toward some bushes in the area. Another officer joined in the search and eventually found the man hiding in some weeds down the trail. It was noted that portion of the trail is within view of Starr Elementary and its playground.

The man, who was now wearing boxers, at first denied being nude before an officer told him what he witnessed.

“He looked down toward the ground and quietly said, ‘I’m sorry. I failed you,’ and admitted that he was previously nude,” the complaint states.

During questioning at the police station, Heathfield admitted to being nude along the trail twice before. He also said he briefly masturbated during one of the occasions.

That wasn’t his intention on the day of the arrest, he told police — “he just needed to get his clothes off and that he specifically chose this spot because it was away from sight,” the complaint states.

Heathfield then asked if he would be charged and noted that he was on probation for doing the same thing in 2015 in River Falls.

“Chris said on that date he had removed his clothes on the (UW-River Falls) campus for the same reasons,” according to the complaint.

Pierce County court records indicate Heathfield was convicted of disorderly conduct on May 2 and was sentenced to one year on probation and time served in jail.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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