A Chetek man was arrested and charged with six domestic abuse crimes after police responded to a call of a woman screaming in an Eau Claire motel room on Sunday, Jan. 12.

Charged in Eau Claire County Circuit Court was John L. Higham, 60, of Chetek, with felonies second degree sexual assault (lifetime supervision of serious sex crimes), intimidation of a victim, strangulation, suffocation, false imprisonment and misdemeanor battery. All charges had the domestic abuse qualifier.

According to the criminal complaint, a caller at a motel on Craig Road in the city of Eau Claire heard a woman call for help. Upon arrival at the motel room, officers allegedly heard a woman screaming for help and a man yelling “shut up.”

After knocking on the door, a naked man answered the door, identified as Higham. Also in the room was a naked woman and an officer had to step between the two to stop the man from yelling at the woman. Officers also observed clumps of hair and blood from the woman throughout the room.

The woman told officers they had been in a relationship for six months about a year ago. He called her saying he was intoxicated and needed a place to stay.

She told officers she rented a motel room for him and then took a shower. After, Higham allegedly demanded sex and tried to force her even though she did not want to and told the man, “no.”

The man allegedly used force to disrobe her, threw her down on the bed and made threats about slitting her throat and killing her. The woman tried to fight off the man, but he allegedly dragged her back into the room when she tried to escape to the bathroom or out into the hallway.

At one point, the woman said the man put a pillow over her face, suffocating her.

She said she was extremely afraid of the man, who had threatened and allegedly abused her at least ten times in the past. She said she thought the man would have killed her if police hadn’t arrived.

Higham appeared to be under the influence of intoxicants. When asked about the incident, he said he had paid for the room and wanted the woman to leave. Motel staff said the woman paid for the room.

The man refused to talk about the alleged assault but instead made comments about the woman’s mental health.

Higham appeared in court on Monday, Jan. 13. A cash bond was set at $2,000 with conditions he have no contact with the woman or her residence, that he avoid alcohol and anywhere it is served.

Higham is scheduled to appear in Eau Claire County Court for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 28.