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River Falls man convicted in rape case

Ryan H. Mulhern

After almost five hours, a Pierce County jury convicted a River Falls man accused of rape.

Jurors in the case against 28-year-old Ryan H. Mulhern returned a guilty verdict on one count of second-degree sexual assault just after 8 p.m. Thursday, March, 8. Mulhern was acquitted of a second felony — strangulation and suffocation.

The verdict followed a two-day trial.

"I'm pleased with the verdict," Pierce County District Attorney Sean Froelich said Tuesday, March 13. "These are difficult cases and it involves a lot of technical and scientific facts. I know they spent a number of hours deliberating. I just thank them for their time."

He said the case was "a team effort" that included River Falls police, the Sexual Assault Response Team nurse and a DNA expert. He also acknowledged "the bravery of the victim for coming forward."

The victim testified at trial, as did Mulhern.

"I don't think it did him any favors," he said of the defendant's testimony.

The case stemmed from a Nov. 22, 2016, incident in River Falls.

According to a criminal complaint:

Mulhern went to a house on Third Street to keep a woman he knew company. Mulhern kissed the woman against her will before undressing himself once she went to bed. He then tried taking off her clothes, which prompted her to resist.

Mulhern forcibly undressed her but cooled off for a bit, but only for a short while when he became enraged after she cried.

Mulhern then raped the woman. She told police the assault involved him placing his forearm over her throat.

The woman ordered Mulhern out after the assault and reported the incident the next day.

The sexual assault charge carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Sentencing is set for May 14 in front of Judge Joe Boles.

Mulhern has a second rape case stemming from a separate River Falls incident on Oct. 7, 2016. He pleaded not guilty to one count of second-degree sexual assault by use of force. That case is set for an August jury trial.

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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