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UW-River Falls Professor Accused Of Sexual Assault

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(credit: St. Croix County Sheriff's Department)

(credit: St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department)

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A University of Wisconsin-River Falls professor has been charged after police say he sexually assaulted a girl at a movie theater.

Thomas William Barnett, 42, of Baldwin, Wis. has been charged with one count of sexual assault of a child under 16 years old and one count of false imprisonment.

According to the criminal complaint, Barnett allegedly sexually assaulted the girl on Aug. 16 at the Hudson Cinema Twelve Theater, after posing as security.

The girl told police she was at a movie with her boyfriend when Barnett approached them, said he was security and needed to speak with the girl.

According to the complaint, Barnett began rubbing the girl’s back and asked her if she had ever had sex before and how old she was. The girl said Barnett began touching her inappropriately and told her he had a video of her that he was going to post on the news and on the web, if she didn’t do what he wanted.

He also allegedly blocked the girl from leaving the theater.

The girl’s boyfriend told police he checked with theater staff and found out Barnett was not security. The girl then reported what happened to police.

The assistant manager of the theater told police she saw a man she knew to be Barnett at the theater on the night of the alleged incident. She said she saw him talking with the victim in the theater, but assumed they were leaving soon.

Investigators went to Barnett’s home and he acknowledged that he was at the movie theater on Aug. 16. According to police, Barnett said to his wife, “I told you about the incident with the kids last night.”

Barnett is listed on the University of Wisconsin-River Falls website as being in his 10th year of teaching music. His next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 21.

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