CBS 58 Investigates: Ending the Cycle of Domestic Violence

CBS 58 Investigates: Ending the Cycle of Domestic Violence

FOND DU LAC, Wis. (CBS 58) – A Fond du Lac County man is accused of strangling multiple women he’s had children with.

The victims spoke exclusively with CBS 58’s David Schuman.

In addition to the abuse they’ve suffered, they also feel the legal system failed them.

“He threw my body onto…smacked my head onto a tray that was on our ottoman,” said Leah Patterson.

“He began strangling me backwards on our couch, and I could feel like I was starting to black out,” Autumn Flasch said.

They’re talking about Hayden Gieschen of North Fond du Lac, and each woman has a daughter with him.

Last month, Gieschen was charged with felony strangulation and suffocation.

Leah recalls the December incident starting when he tried to touch her in bed and she said no.

“I just kept saying I want to go to my mom’s. I don’t want to be by you. He grabbed me by my throat and threw me on the ground,” she said. “It just kept getting tighter and tighter and every time I told him I couldn’t breathe he said you get what you deserve.”

Autumn was victimized by Gieschen before that, in 2017.

“They said over 75 percent of my body was bruised.”

Gieschen was convicted of strangling and suffocating her.

“I was stuttering. I wasn’t saying full sentences. I was throwing up and they were very concerned about the fact that I had a concussion,” Autumn said.

For what he did to Autumn, Gieschen served six months in jail – a hugely disappointing sentence to her.

He was in the middle of three years of probation when the new felony charges were filed for what police say happened with Leah.

“I really feel like it’s the laws that let us down,” Autumn said.

Julius Kim is a defense lawyer who was an assistant district attorney in Milwaukee County for many years.

He says Gieschen’s sentence was common for someone without a violent criminal history.

“The court essentially was saying we’re going to give you an opportunity to prove yourself,” Kim said. “If this was an anomaly, then show us that it was.”

Gieschen failed that test.

While the women now hope for a new, harsher sentence, the experience they share has forged a friendship.

“To hear her say it and feel the pain and just know that I’ve felt that before, it kills me,” Autumn said.

“I know what you’ve been through and so it helped me a lot to not feel like I was just crazy for doing something,” said Leah.

Refusing to suffer in silence any longer, Leah and Autumn have found their voices.

“Hayden’s going to go away,” said Autumn. “Everybody’s going to know what he is and who he is.”

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