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Schmidt testifies, says touched woman's breast by accident, kissed her

WILLMAR -- Paul Schmidt took the stand Friday morning and testified that he accidentally grabbed the 22-year-old Atwater woman's breast while they were practicing therapeutic holds and take-down maneuvers during the early morning hours of Oct. 16, 2007 at the Atwater Police Department.

He also testified that he told her twice to show him her breasts because both of them and two other men had made jokes prior to the incident about the woman flashing her breasts to people. He also said he kissed the woman, and later felt bad about it.

"I helped her up off the floor" (after a takedown maneuver), "and kissed her three times," he said. "It was a stupid move."

Schmidt, 35, of Atwater, is on trial for felony fourth-degree and gross misdemeanor fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct charges in Kandiyohi County District Court. He is accused of the conduct while he was working as an Atwater police officer.

The jury of four men and nine women is expected to begin deliberating this afternoon after the attorneys give their closing arguments. The trial is before District Judge David L. Mennis.

Schmidt said the woman did not appear to be upset with him after the incident and that he did not remember grabbing her genital area. During cross-examination by prosecutor Michael Lieberg, he admitted he could have accidentally grabbed her genital area while they were doing to the holds and takedown maneuvers.

Schmidt's testimony was in sharp contrast to the woman's testimony on Thursday morning. He kept his composure through the back-and-forth questioning by the attorneys, and appeared to choke up only when his attorney, Julius Nolen, asked him about the importance of his mar-riage, wife and family.

In contrast, the woman said a number of times during testimony and cross-examination that she didn't remember specific details and information. She appeared to grow frustrated with the details. She was admonished by Judge Mennis to answer the questions and allow the attorneys to finish their questions before speaking.

Read more about the trial and the jury's verdict in Saturday's West Central Tribune.