Party Clown in Court on Sex Charges
He's facing a total of 32 criminal counts, including two counts of second-degree sexual assault, 27 counts of capturing an image of nudity and one count each of illegally accessing computer data, battery and possession of a switchblade.
Read the Criminal Complaint - 10 pages
Now authorities say Schroeder may have collected all the evidence that may be used against him in court. He made a preliminary appearance in a courtroom Thursday.
"Whenever you have some kind of physical evidence, such as photographs or injuries, that can corroborate what a victim of sexual assault is reporting, that's critical for us," said Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel. "We unfortunately don't have it very frequently."
Watch 5/10 Report: Suspect in Court
Schroeder is better known as "Silly the Clown," and he's performed at many children's parties. He has a troubled history; something most parents didn't know when they hired him for birthday parties.
"I'm guessing most parents don't conduct a Google search on the Internet before they hire a clown for a party," said Schimel. "Maybe they want to do that."
One Cudahy mother was disturbed when we told her about Schroeder's recent arrest. "Very shocked," said Renee McElwee. "We had absolutely on idea that anything like that was going on with him."
Two years ago, McElwee hired Schroeder to be a magician at her twin boys' sixth birthday party. "The kids had a ball, and there were probably 20 kids there that day," she said. "They all played with him. He dressed them up and put makeup on them."
Watch 5/9 Report: Reaction from Parents
McElwee found Schroeder online at sillytheclown.com. "(There were) lots of comments on the Web site about what a great job he did, and we added our own, saying he was really an outstanding performer," she said.
Schroeder's never been convicted of a serious crime, but Greenfield police considered him a suspect in the 1991 death of his infant daughter. He was also served with two restraining orders.
For McElwee this news comes with a lesson. "We never thought to look him up ahead of time," she said. "Who knows what we would have found? Hindsight's 20/20."
According to the criminal complaint, police seized a computer from Schroeder's home. On it, they reportedly found numerous nude photos of the victim, including pictures of Schroeder sexually assaulting her.
TODAY'S TMJ4 has also learned that Greenfield police recommended Schroeder be charged with shaking his infant daughter to death in 1991.
The Milwaukee County district attorney's office reviewed the case several times but could not find enough proof. The most recent instance when Greenfield police submitted the case for possible charges, the statute of limitations had run out, and the district attorney's office could not move forward, according to the police department.
"The DA's office had reviewed all the facts and basically the statute of limitations had run out. So our case is basically closed at this point," said Greenfield Detective Sergeant Jay Johnson.
Schroeder's attorney, Scott Schmidlkofer, did not want to discuss the 1991 case. He did, however, question whether Schroeder's past contact with police played a role in the current charges against Schroeder.
"I think when this comes out and in the end, I think everyone will see that maybe this case is being chased a little bit more vigorously than others," said Schmidlkofer.