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Burnett County Prosecutor Charged With Secretly Recording Sexual Encounters With Women

Daniel P. Steffen Was Handling A Case For One Of Women At The Time

A gavel sits on a desk inside a courtroom
This Jan. 14, 2013, file photo shows a gavel sits on a desk inside the Court of Appeals at the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center in Denver. Brennan Linsley/AP Photo

An assistant district attorney for Burnett County has been accused of secretly recording sexual encounters with two women, at least one of whom had a case being handled by the prosecutor at the time.

Daniel P. Steffen, 50, of Osceola, has been charged in Polk County Circuit Court with three counts of capturing an intimate representation of the women. Each count is a felony that could result in a $10,000 fine or up to three and a half years in prison.

According to the criminal complaint, a Wisconsin Department of Justice agent began investigating claims that a woman said she was having sex with Steffen, an assistant district attorney for Burnett County, in exchange for leniency on pending criminal cases.

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The woman first denied a relationship with the investigator while in jail. But the woman admitted months later at her home that she had sex with Steffen several times at his home and office during work hours. The two met during a case he was handling in which she faced charges for violating a restraining order.

The agent secured a search warrant of Steffen’s home that unearthed an iPad with videos depicting the two engaged in sexual activity, according to the complaint. In an August 2018 video, the prosecutor winks at the iPad repeatedly while the two are having sex and repeatedly asks the woman, “Who’s in charge?”

Another video from February 2018 revealed the prosecutor had sex with another woman. In the video, the two were heard discussing ways she could avoid criminal charges for hitting a mailbox, according to the complaint.

Neither of the women were aware they were being recorded with the iPad, although one of the women said she allowed Steffen to record her with his phone, the complaint states.

Steffen told the Minneapolis Star Tribune he’s “anxious for the truth to come out.”

Steffen’s initial appearance is set for Tuesday, Feb. 16.

The prosecutor was previously charged with misdemeanor theft in Dane County Circuit Court. The charge was the result of an investigation by the DOJ that found he lied on a form to get reimbursed for a conference he attended in Madison in order to hide that he was staying in the same room with a colleague, according to the Burnett County Sentinel. The charge was later amended to disorderly conduct. Steffen pleaded no contest and was ordered to pay a fine last year.

This isn’t the first time a prosecutor with the Burnett County District Attorney’s Office has been called into question regarding actions with female defendants. Former Burnett County District Attorney William Norine was publicly reprimanded by the state Office of Lawyer Regulation in 2019 for pursuing dates with women, some of whom had pending criminal cases in the county.

The Office of Lawyer Regulation listed three violations in its reprimand of Norine, which included a conflict of interest for sending Facebook messages to women who had active criminal cases.

“In one matter, Norine offered to buy dinner and ‘compare notes’ with a woman who had a pending Burnett County criminal case as well as a pending Child in Need of Protection or Services (CHIPS) case,” the reprimand states. “The woman claimed she was desperate to get her children back and was in a vulnerable position.”

Norine also told another woman with a pending case in Burnett County that she was a “wonderful beautiful person” and offered to pay her phone bill if she “had time to meet.”

Norine retired from his position in August 2018 and denied the decision was related to the accusations.