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Trial date set for Milwaukee firefighter accused of sexually assaulting coworker

NOW: Trial date set for Milwaukee firefighter accused of sexually assaulting coworker

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A Milwaukee firefighter charged with second-degree sexual assault will be going to trial.

Michael Peden is accused of sexually assaulting a female coworker back in 2017.

He is accused of making racist comments to a female firefighter, grabbing her sexually, and trying to make her touch him.

Peden denies these claims and has been on paid administrative leave while the fire department continues to investigate 18 months later.

With the internal investigation still open, Peden’s attorney has not been allowed to interview members of the fire department, so in May they filed a motion to dismiss the case.

“The individuals that work for the fire department were told that they would be disciplined if they spoke with me about anything relating to the investigation of Mr. Peden,” Rebecca Coffee, Peden’s Defense Attorney, said.

Coffee said members of the Milwaukee Police Department have been able to interview firefighters on behalf of the State, the prosecutor.

“I, of course, have been given copies of these interviews but that is also not acceptable,” Coffee said. “I can’t allow the government to conduct the only investigation in this case. That’s just not how our justice system works.”

Monday, the judge denied the motion to dismiss the case but agreed the defense needs to be able to conduct their own interviews of the Milwaukee Fire Department.

“The court is going to order the City to have those witnesses available for counsel,” Judge Jeffrey Wagner said. “Not to have them available would certainly infringe upon the due process rights of the defense.”

Peden will be back in court in July for a pretrial hearing.

His jury trial is scheduled to start August 5.

CBS 58 reached out to Milwaukee Fire Department for comment Monday and did not hear back.

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