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Man acquitted of charges in 2015 crash with bicyclists in Fitchburg

A rural Oregon man was acquitted Thursday night of charges that he struck two bicyclists on a rural Fitchburg road nearly three years ago.

John Dohm, 63, was acquitted of two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment and two counts of reckless driving causing injury for the Aug. 26, 2015, incident in which his car came into contact with the cyclists, who were on a professional cycling training ride, causing them to crash.

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A rural Oregon man was acquitted Thursday night of charges that he struck two bicyclists on a rural Fitchburg road nearly three years ago.

John Dohm, 63, was acquitted of two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment and two counts of reckless driving causing injury for the Aug. 26, 2015, incident in which his car came into contact with the cyclists, who were on a professional cycling training ride, causing them to crash.

The crash followed a confrontation a few minutes earlier, the cyclists testified, in which Dohm closely passed the cyclists, who were training for professional road races.

The cyclists, Joseph Maloney and Maxwell Ackermann, testified during Dohm’s three-day trial that Dohm angrily ran into Maloney with his black Jaguar, causing a chain reaction that sent the two tumbling off their bikes and into a ditch, leaving them with multiple scrapes and bruises.

A jury of six men and six women acquitted Dohm after deliberating for about four hours. Dohm happily embraced his lawyers, Charles Giesen and Jessica Giesen, after the verdicts were read.

Charles Giesen characterized the testimony of the two bicyclists as being full of “lies and inconsistencies.” In their testimony, he said, Maloney and Ackermann disagreed about such things as where on the road they were positioned relative to one another, where on the road Dohm stopped after he passed them for the first time, whether Dohm angrily told them to “get off the road” and about the way that Dohm “aggressively” honked his horn at them, whether it was in staccato bursts or a long blast.

Giesen said that jurors should especially disbelieve Maloney’s testimony. Maloney testified that he was hurt so badly in the crash that he didn’t ride a bicycle for more than a week after the incident, and yet a photo posted on Facebook the next day showed him on a bike leading the Shorewood High School mountain bike team.

The clothing and helmet that Maloney sent to police as evidence, which he said he wore the day of the crash, were different from the clothes and helmet he was wearing in photos taken at the crash scene, Giesen said. Maloney testified he no longer had the clothes he actually wore.

“I submit you should give no weight to Joseph Maloney because he’s a proven liar time and time again,” Giesen said.

But state Assistant Attorney General Emily Thompson said the clothing wasn’t important. Maloney misremembered which clothes he was wearing that day and sent in the wrong set, she said, which was a “dumb move” but it didn’t disprove all of the other evidence in the case.

Giesen also argued that the two cyclists stand to gain from prospective civil judgments against Dohm, but Thompson argued that neither man has filed any lawsuit against Dohm, and Maloney testified he had no intention to do so.

Assistant District Attorney Awais Khaleel, also arguing for the state, said neither man had anything to gain by intentionally causing a crash with Dohm, and only stood to risk their own lives trying to stage such a crash.

In addition, Khaleel said, it makes no sense that Maloney would have destroyed evidence from the crash that would have been helpful to him in a civil lawsuit.

Khaleel said Dohm was motivated to act because of anger he had toward bicyclists, seen on a police video taken during a traffic stop only two months before the crash, in which Dohm complained bitterly about bicyclists on roads.

Khaleel said Dohm lied in his testimony when he said he had no strong feelings about bicyclists, when the video of the earlier incident told otherwise.

Ed Treleven is the courts reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.