Lincoln County judges recuse themselves from sexual assault case
Both Lincoln County Circuit Court judges have recused themselves from the sexual assault case against David R. Hayes.
Hayes, 46, of Merrill, appeared in court Wednesday, but the case didn’t go forward as Judge Jay Tlusty recused himself, citing that he knew the defendant well. Fellow Lincoln County Judge Rob Russell subsequently recused himself for the same reason. The case has been referred to Vilas County Judge Neal A. Nielsen III, chief judge of the Ninth Judicial District. The initial appearance has not been rescheduled.
Hayes was charged in November 2014 with one misdemeanor count of having sex with a child 16 or older. That case was dismissed in Lincoln County Circuit Court Feb. 20. The case was then re-filed Feb .25 with the addition of a felony count of 2nd degree sexual assault/use of force.
According to court records, the incident took place in August 2012 in Hayes’ vehicle while he was giving the 17-year-old victim a ride home from a party in the town of Scott. Hayes reportedly forced her to perform oral sex on him.
After the incident came to light, Hayes was questioned by law enforcement. He reportedly apologized and said he was very intoxicated at the time.
Tlusty had also recused himself from the original misdemeanor case, which was subsequently presided over by Marathon County Judge LaMont Jacobson.
Hayes has served on city of Merrill committees. Hayes has resigned from the city’s Redevelopment Authority, but remains on the Police & Fire Commission. The commission only meets for the hiring, discipline or firing of police officers or firefighters and hasn’t met since last July. According to City Administrator Dave Johnson, Hayes hasn’t been removed from the commission because he hasn’t been convicted. If convicted, Hayes will likely be removed from the commission, which would require action of the city council, Johnson added.