Twenty-seven year old Joshua Sylvester began his law-enforcement career with the Kenosha Police Department on August 2, 2021. He was married in 2019 and recently had a child. A little more than a year after being sworn in, he is now behind bars and facing 43.5 years in the Wisconsin Prison System. Sylvester was charged today by the Kenosha DA’s office with “second degree sexual assault by law enforcement officer” and “misconduct in public office/excess authority.” The investigation is being handled primarily by the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department to avoid a conflict of interest. Kenosha DA Michael Graveley tells KCE he will know soon if he can handle this case, or if he needs to toss it to another County.
According to the 8-page criminal complaint, Sylvester is accused of some very serious actions. The below allegations are graphic in nature and intended to be read by adults:
Former Kenosha Police Officer Joshua Sylvester was at Aurora Hospital on August 18, 2022 monitoring an intoxicated 24-year-old woman who he arrested for OWI after crashing into a tree and losing consciousness. KCE is not naming the victim. Sylvester inserted his fingers into the victim’s vagina several times while at the hospital. He also pulled out his penis and asked her to touch it. She refused but he forced her to. He added his cell phone number to hers as “Officer Josh” and sent himself nude photos of the woman from the woman’s phone. A Kenosha County Sheriff’s Detective viewed body camera footage, some of which had to be recovered by I.T. staff due to Sylvester turning off the camera, and the footage supported all of the victim’s allegations. Sylvester even tried to cover the body-camera with his hand, but he was still seen sexually assaulting the victim. Sylvester later took the victim to the jail, but before they got into the squad car, he asked her not to “have a conversation about any of that in the car” because the squad cars have microphones and cameras. The victim didn’t initially want to tell her story but her friend and her Dad told her to go to the Kenosha Police Department. They met with Kenosha Lt. Joseph Nosalik, the commander of the Internal Affairs unit. Last night, August 22, 2022, Kenosha Sheriff’s detectives executed a search warrant at Sylvester’s home and he immediately knew why there were there. His wife told police that Sylvester washed his uniform once to remove blood, but police found no uniform in the home. Sylvester waived his fifth amendment rights and made unreasonable excuses. When asked why he had vaginal secretions on his hands, he said it was because he “stopped her from masturbating.” He also said he held her hand to pray. He denied sending the nude photos to himself.
Initial Court Appearance
Sylvester made his first appearance in court today with his attorney Timothy Baldwin out of Milwaukee. He looked down for most of the court hearing and seemed embarrassed. Attorney Baldwin asked for a $5,000 cash bond. He said that his client is married with a new-born and his status as a police officer should be taken into consideration. He was worried that Sylvester would be in danger remaining in jail.
In court today for the DA’s office was Prosecutor T. Clair Binger, donning a millennium Falcon lapel pin. Binger requested a $25,000 cash bond. He also asked that Sylvester have no contact with the victim and witnesses. He stated that the allegations were supported by body-camera footage. “This is behavior that is extremely alarming. Citizens are demanding that Police Officers protect them from the public…. This is someone that was vulnerable, and under the control of law enforcement and intoxicated.” He also mentioned that the maximum sentence is 40 years in prison for the sexual assault charge.
Kenosha Circuit Court Commissioner Loren Keating stated that the allegations represent “nothing short of an egregious breach in the public trust.” Keating set Sylvester’s cash bail at $15,000.
Kenosha Police had the following to say today:
“Today, Kenosha Police Chief Eric Larsen announced that the Department has fired
Joshua Sylvester, a 27-year-old probationary police officer who has been with the
Kenosha Police Department just over 12 months. Sylvester was fired for violating the
Kenosha Police Department’s policies and procedures.
Acting on a citizen complaint received last week, Kenosha Police conducted an internal
investigation into allegations that Sylvester committed criminal offenses while he was
on duty. The results of that investigation were promptly turned over to the Kenosha
County Sheriff’s Department with Chief Larsen’s request to conduct a criminal
The Kenosha Police Department is fully cooperating with the Kenosha County Sheriff’s
Department, who is leading the investigation”
KCE Spoke with the Kenosha Police Union President Pete Deates, who is a detective with the department’s sensitive crimes unit. This author has had many interactions with Deates as Alderman. He has a reputation for transparency and has little tolerance for misconduct among his members. His job with the department is among the toughest in the detective bureau and deals with sexual assaults of adults and children. Deates had the following to say:
“I have been made aware of an allegation against one of our officers. The KPPA encourages the department to utilize any and all resources when a citizen makes a complaint against one of our officers to prove or disprove the allegation. If an officer violates the trust of the citizens we serve, it makes the job of all our good officers more difficult. If what is being alleged occurred, we don’t want an officer like that on our department.”
Sylvester is due back in court on September 1, 2022 for his preliminary hearing.