Witnesses testify that Zumhofe relationship wasn’t appropriate
WILLMAR — Witnesses in the jury trial of a 62-year-old Cyrus man described feeling concerned and uncomfortable about the relationship they observed between him and a close female relative.
Several witnesses testified Friday that they felt that Eugene “Buck” Zumhofe’s relationship with the young woman, now age 29, was not appropriate. Witnesses said that the two had been observed kissing, hugging and dancing in ways that left them concerned and uncomfortable.
Zumhofe faces six counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and six counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct for having a sexual relationship with the young woman over the course of many years, beginning when she was 15.
He is a former professional wrestler who performed as Buck “Rock n’ Roll” Zumhofe.
The trial before District Judge David Mennis continues next week in Kandiyohi County District Court. The assistant county attorneys prosecuting the case are Nathan Midolo, Aaron Welch and Dain Olson. Zumhofe is represented by public defenders Carter Greiner and Robert Schaps.
Holli Cogelow Ruter, of Spicer, testified that the young woman rode her school bus while Cogelow Ruter was a bus driver between 1998 and 2001. Cogelow Ruter testified that she was driving the bus on Birch Street in New London and saw a vehicle driving erratically behind her. The young woman asked her to stop the bus because she wanted to get off and get in the car with Zumhofe.
Cogelow Ruter testified that the young woman and Zumhofe kissed in the car in a romantic way and that Zumhofe’s hand was on the girl’s body in an inappropriate way.
She also testified that she saw the young woman and Zumhofe dancing very closely and intimately at a bar in Regal, and that she thought it was inappropriate.
Jennifer Newman, who met the young woman while both of them attended the University of Minnesota at Morris, testified that she stayed at Zumhofe’s apartment for a time in the summer of 2002. Newman testified that Zumhofe and the young woman had sexual contact in front of her in the apartment.
JoEllen Kyllo, of Austin, testified that she wrestled with Zumhofe’s troupe for a period of several years and that she observed that Zumhofe and the young woman lived as husband and wife and that “(the young woman) was like the wife … and Buck took care of the ‘manly’ stuff,” she said.
Kyllo also said that the young woman never went anywhere without Zumhofe, that the pair often kissed and held hands in front of the others on weekend wrestling trips and that Zumhofe got verbally upset at the young woman whenever she got near another man.
The criminal complaint against Zumhofe alleges that he started having sex with the young woman when she was 15 years old, in June 1999. The abuse is alleged to have continued until 2011. The woman, who is now 29, reported the abuse after seeking therapy and medical care in 2012. She alleges that there were approximately 1,800 separate acts of sexual abuse.