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Docs: Man sexually assaulted woman prior to hourslong sewer standoff in Bloomington

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — A man arrested following a nine-hour standoff in a Bloomington sewer has been formally charged in the case. Investigators say he also sexually assaulted a woman prior to the standoff.

Eli Swartzentruber, 37, faces four felonies in a misdemeanor in two separate cases. He is listed as “transient” in court documents acquired by News 8.

The investigation began with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday morning. Deputies were called to the 6100 block of Koontz Road around 8:30 a.m. after a woman said she was assaulted by Swartzentruber.

According to the victim, Swartzentruber came into the cabin-like structure where she was staying and asked her if she wanted to go live underground with him. She rejected his offer and said he pulled out a machete during the conversation.

Swartzentruber left and said he would be back in ten minutes.

When he returned, he asked the victim if she was ready to go and started to pack her belongings.

She told police he began to rub her neck before squeezing it to the point that she began to experience pain and difficulty talking.

Swartzentruber then took off his pants, shoved money down her shirt and began to fondle her, according to court documents. She managed to get away by tricking him into looking away momentarily. She said he took his pants as she ran away in an attempt to slow him down should he chase after her.

Around an hour later, officers with the Bloomington Police Department were called to Seminary Park in the 100 block of West 2nd Street.

Police had said that Swartzentruber had an argument with several people in the park and was swinging a metal rod. Officers also said he threw a hatchet.

Around 12:30 p.m., police began looking for Swartzentruber in the sewer.

Investigators believed Swartzentruber to be armed and the search resulted in alerts being sent by the nearby Indiana University.

When Swartzentruber was eventually removed from the storm drain, he did not have a firearm but did have an empty handgun holster and rifle ammunition, according to investigators.

In the sexual assault case, Swartzentruber faces charges of sexual battery, residential entry and battery.

In the standoff case, he faces charges of battery and intimidation.

Online court records indicate his initial hearing is Thursday afternoon.