A former Minneapolis police officer was sentenced Wednesday to four years for sexually assaulting a woman in December 2016 while off duty.
Thomas Tichich, 49, was convicted April 26 of two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct following a five-day trial in Hennepin County District Court. He was fired by Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo hours after the verdict.
“This case is about you as a person, as a man, not you as a police officer,” said Judge Tamara Garcia. After 32 months in prison, he will be eligible for probation.
Defense attorney Peter Wold had asked that Tichich be placed on probation, but Garcia applied the sentencing guidelines.
Afterward, Tichich was handcuffed and led from the courtroom. Wold said he will appeal because the conviction was based on circumstantial evidence with no proof there was oral sex.
Tichich said before the sentencing that he took “full responsibility” for his actions. “I made bad choices,” he said.
Tichich was accused of forcing oral sex on the 39-year-old victim while she was passed out. His DNA was found around her mouth. The woman testified she was unaware of what happened and had not agreed to have sex.
Tichich, recently divorced, met the woman and one of her friends at a northeast Minneapolis bar after he finished his shift on Dec. 15, 2016. They went to a second bar, then returned to the friend’s house in the early-morning hours.
The friend testified she told Tichich to sleep downstairs but he came upstairs and tried to have sex with her. She ordered him out of her room, then came downstairs minutes later and saw Tichich standing naked over the woman, his body near her face. The friend snapped two cellphone photos of him and called 911.
Prosecutors said he was forcing oral sex on the woman. Tichich testified that he and the woman had been kissing, which would explain his DNA on her face. He said the woman had consented, but they were interrupted by the friend and did not have sex. He hastily put on his clothes and fled the house in stocking feet.
The jury of eight women and four men were shown body camera video that captured police waking the victim, who appeared to be disoriented.
In a statement Wednesday, the victim said, “Testifying in court was like opening the wound all over again. … I suffered fear, emotional distress. Those pictures will be forever ingrained in my brain.”
Tichich said before sentencing that he was not offering excuses for what he had done. While apologizing to the victim, he said his recollection of what happened were different from hers. He apologized to the Minneapolis Police Department, his family and friends.