THU AM Update: DOJ report shows effort to clear sexual assault kit backlog delayed testing in nearly 350 active cases

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— Efforts by the state crime lab to trim a backlog of untested sexual assault kits led to delays in testing DNA in nearly 350 active cases, a new Department of Justice report says.

The state began to clear that backlog — which peaked at over 6,800 untested kits, some of which dated back to the 1980s — after the DOJ in 2015 received a $4 million federal grant. While most of the work has been outsourced to private labs, a team made up of more than half of the DNA analysts employed by the state crime lab were assigned to review the results.

According to the latest annual report from the state crime lab, those analysts spent over 4,850 hours assisting with the Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative over the course of the project. That amounted to roughly 15 percent of their time between 2016-18, when former AG Brad Schimel headed up the DOJ.

The report indicates it takes an analyst about 14 hours to review each case, diverting time away from other cases which required DNA analysis. All told, the report estimates analysts had to delay review of roughly 350 active cases, which caused the pending caseload to swell to over 1,100.

The report notes that with the completion of WiSAKI, analysts can turn their full attention towards reducing the overall number of active pending cases. The most recent data released by the DOJ indicated that 311 kits were still in the testing process, but a DOJ spokeswoman indicated to WisPolitics those kits were not part of the original total and were required to be added on as a condition of receiving the grant funding.

In total 4,471 kits have been designated for testing by the DOJ. Out of that sum, 1,605 kits identified foreign DNA and 496 have produced matches in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System.

DOJ spokewoman Gillian Drummond said those matches have resulted in charges against eight suspects so far.

See the report:

— The Assembly Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee plans to exec today on a pair of bills that stiffen penalties for drunken drivers.

The bills were part of a larger package of four OWI-related proposals authored by Rep. Jim Ott, R-Mequon.

They were originally scheduled to be voted on in committee a month ago.

But several of the measures came under pressure from both sides of the aisle. Ott told that several of his Republican colleagues couldn’t stand the idea of mandatory minimum sentencing requirements, and Dems pushed for amendments that would have added large appropriations that the GOP found unacceptable.

Despite the pushback, AB 17 — a measure that requires a mandatory minimum for OWI homicide — will see a committee vote. The panel will also exec on AB 15, which requires OWI defendants to make an appearance in court.

See the agenda:

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, will host a roundtable discussion with law enforcement officers today in La Crosse.


June 13: luncheon: The future of transportation funding in Wisconsin

Transportation funding has become one of the key debating points in the two-year state budget making its way through the Legislature. Gov. Tony Evers proposed an 8-cent-a gallon increase in the gas tax plus while getting rid of the minimum markup on gasoline — something the administration said would more than wipe out the increase. Republicans have removed the minimum markup provision and left in the gas tax increase for now. Where will the debate lead and will it result in a long-term solution?

Hear details from some of the key players in the debate at a issues luncheon set for Thursday, June 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at UW-Milwaukee’s Waukesha campus just off I-94.

Panelists for the discussion: Wisconsin DOT Secretary Craig Thompson, Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow, state Rep. Debra Kolste, D-Janesville and a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee, and state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin and a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee. subscribers and members receive discounted pricing for WisPolitics luncheons of $20 per person, including lunch. Price for the general public is $25 per person, including lunch.

This event is sponsored by: Kapur & Associates, UW-Milwaukee, Wisconsin Academy of Global Education and Training, ELEVEN25 at Pabst, Milwaukee Police Association, The Firm Consulting, Medical College of Wisconsin and Spectrum.

The Waukesha County Business Alliance is an event partner.

For more information and registration, visit:


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Foxconn awards contracts to ‘Wisconsin’ firms with HQs in CT, UK
… contracts announced Wednesday are for work on the foundations of the display panel plant … going to C.D. Smith Construction Inc., of Fond du Lac; Otis Elevator Company, Milwaukee; and PSI Intertek, Waukesha. “We’re proud to be delivering on our ‘Wisconsin First’ commitment” … the company said in its announcement. … Otis Elevator, with headquarters in Farmington, Connecticut, is part of United Technologies Corp., also of Farmington. … PSI, with headquarters in Arlington Heights, Illinois, is part of Intertek Group plc, of London. … Asked about Otis and PSI, Foxconn said … firms must have had a presence in Wisconsin for at least a year, “provide full operational delivery of services with local employees and management” at their Wisconsin locations, and pay sales or other taxes to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. … Meanwhile, Mount Pleasant said it has assessed Foxconn’s 850 acres in the village at $57.6 million. A year ago, that land was assessed at $8.4 million.

Democrats Resurrect Voucher Transparency Bill
[Larson] Bill Would Disclose [on property tax bill line item] How Much Taxpayer Dollars Are Sent To Voucher Schools … after a similar one failed in the Legislature in 2017 and [JFC removed Evers’ budget plan] … About 40,000 low- and middle-income students in Wisconsin attend voucher schools, which are mostly religious institutions, and are funded with more than $300 million tax dollars each year. Q&A with Larson.

Proposal Would Allow For Electronic Early Voting In Wisconsin
… Under [GOP Rep. Brandtjen] proposal, officials would have the option to electronically process ballots on the day they are cast. … not be officially tabulated until Election Day. … would allow for quicker tabulation of results on Election Day, save election officials from having to hire additional workers on Election Day to handle a glut of ballots, and increase voter confidence. … “It is incredible, the amount of folks that are now taking advantage and voting early,” Brandtjen said. Beloit Clerk Stottler: “This is going to save the city of Beloit hundreds of hours of time and thousands of dollars of money.” Municipal Clerks, MUnies registered support. LOWV written testimony worried plan “would reduce opportunities for observation of absentee ballot processing by spreading it out over a period, potentially, of weeks.” Dem Rep. Subeck dittoed. GOP Rep. Sortwell concerned it favors wealthier communities who have electronic balloting. No committee vote in either house.

Rep. Gwen Moore launches Mamas First Act
to make services of doulas, midwives eligible for Medicaid coverage … after the city in March approved a [pilot] program that provides doulas for 100 expectant moms in the 53206 ZIP code. … The congresswoman hosted a news conference Wednesday with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and others … Moore expects her measure, if enacted into law, would help reduce maternal and infant mortality. … “This is a resource that our communities have been waiting on for a very, very long time,” Moore said to a crowd of 50 doulas, mothers and other community members. “As our speakers have said, we are really restoring an institution among women that is ancient and all we need is a way to formalize those relationships and makes sure that those connections are made.”

Report: Sexual Assault Kit Tests Delayed Hundreds Of Active Cases
DOJ In 2016 Began Testing Thousands Of Unanalyzed Kits … [DOJ study] found the labs took in 8,626 cases for DNA testing in 2018 and completed work on 5,664 cases…. compares with 5,311 incoming cases and 4,782 completions in 2017. … spent more than 4,850 hours on the sexual assault kit project, causing delays in nearly 350 active cases.

[Durand] Farm crisis meeting brings mental health to the fore
… DeMuth, the executive director of United Way of Dunn County, was one of more than a dozen people to speak Wednesday at a Farm Crisis Town Hall … organized by Brian Winnekins of WRDN Radio … Additional speakers included area legislative leaders and their aides, along with UW-Extension, Pepin County Health Department and [DATCP’s Friar] who discussed programs available to help farmers during difficult times. … Winnekins said [Loganville farmer] Roecker’s Sauk County meetings provided some of the inspiration for the Farm Crisis Town Hall.

Another Madison teacher accused of using racial slur in front of students
… email to parents Wednesday afternoon, Spring Harbor Principal Pam Waite wrote that the “serious incident … involves a staff member allegedly using a racial slur in front of several students.” … teacher was removed from the classroom and an investigation begun. … There have been at least seven cases this school year … In all the previous cases, the staff member has been fired or resigned. … [Supt.] Cheatham has taken a zero-tolerance approach … district has been tight-lipped … Only one teacher who used a slur has spoken publicly … former Hamilton Middle School teacher told the Wisconsin State Journal that when she used the N-word Oct. 31, it was as part of a misguided attempt at teaching a black seventh-grader a lesson after the student called a white student a “cracker,” a derogatory term for whites. MMSD’s Strauch-Nelson no further info.

The ‘Harvey Weinstein of the WI National Guard’
Records show WI National Guard rehired unit leader who allegedly sexually assaulted soldiers … according to emails between the soldier [one of victims] and former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch’s office … included “10.28 MBs of substantiating documentation,” which was not included in the records provided to the Cap Times … asked Kleefisch to provide some oversight to Adjutant General Donald Dunbar … cited concerns about how the Wisconsin Army National Guard investigates sexual assaults and said it was violating federal protocols. … said she filed a formal complaint and in March 2015 the National Guard Bureau’s Office of Complex Investigations investigated her claim, which it substantiated … Guard allowed the alleged perpetrator to retire honorably with benefits and then later rehired him as a civilian contractor … had access to soldiers’ health records including his victims … “My perpetrator also has the gall to periodically email me directly — despite once having a Military Protective Order against him,” the soldier wrote. … Baldauff said [Evers] remains committed to ensuring “a safe environment for our service members and expects a thorough, fair, and impartial review from the National Guard Bureau’s Office of Complex Investigations.” … Suhr [for Kleefisch in 2017 email] said the Department of Military Affairs … reviewed her concerns and said the alleged offender no longer worked there … said it had changed its policies to safeguard future hiring decisions. … in December 2017, the soldier thanked Suhr but cautioned that the system of justice in the Wisconsin National Guard was not effective and asked Kleefisch to provide oversight of it. … [later wrote] “The Office of the Lt. Governor is literally my last viable… option to affect positive change in our State’s National Guard with regards to sexual assault response procedures.” … Suhr continued to have discussions with officials at the National Guard Bureau throughout the spring of 2018. … Kleefisch [in June 2018 email to soldier] said her office had been discussing protocols for investigating sexual assault allegations with Dunbar’s office. … said that the Wisconsin National Guard sometimes investigates allegations in house because of a backlog at the National Guard Bureau that “prevents prompt resolution.”

Taycheedah women’s prison placed on lockdown after emergency declared
… DOC’s Hendricks’ email] said the moves were initiated “as a measure to maintain the safety of all who live and work” at the prison… conducting an institution-wide search as a proactive measure, and there is no specific or active threat … in effect “until further notice” [said Warden Cooper memo] … As of May 24, the prison housed 936 inmates, nearly 300 over its capacity of 653 … currently has a vacancy rate of 21% for correctional officers and sergeants … lockdown was declared about six weeks after the death of inmate Barbara Jean Krause, 63. … less than two weeks after being transferred to Taycheedah from the Winnebago County Jail … Krause’s death is “under review” by the DOC, Hendricks said, and no details. FdL Med Examiner office said no reports available. Officials from [DOJ, FdLPD, Sheriff] did not immediately respond.


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– 7:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.: BizTimes Media: Women in Business. Panelists include: Deborah Allen, president and chief executive, DNA Network LLC; Maggie Fernandes, software developer, MacGregor Partners; Kathy Thornton-Bias, president and chief executive, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee; and Julie Waterman, owner, Indulgence Chocolatiers.

– 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.: BizTimes Media: 15th Annual BizExpo. Event includes the Women in Business breakfast, the Bravo! Entrepreneur/I.Q. Awards luncheon and a series of seminars.

– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Rural Development informational hearing. The committee is to hear testimony related to workforce housing in the state.

– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety public hearing on AB 171, relating to sexual contact by a law enforcement officer with a person in his or her custody; and AB 198, relating to battery or threat to a probation, extended supervision, and parole agent; a community supervision agent; or an aftercare agent or a family member of the agent.

– 10:05 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety executive session on AB 15, relating to requiring persons accused of violating traffic laws and ordinances related to driving while intoxicated to appear in person in court; and AB 17, relating to the mandatory period of confinement for homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle.

– 11 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Education executive session on AB 110, relating to developing a guidebook related to dyslexia and related conditions.

– 11:05 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Education public hearing on AB 195, relating to a license to teach based on reciprocity, other bills.

– 1 p.m.: Senate Committee on Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions executive session on three appointments.

– 1 p.m.: Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy executive session on SB 31, relating to permit fees for concentrated animal feeding operations; and SB 137, relating to the nitrate testing pilot program.

– 1:05 p.m.: Senate Committee on Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions public hearing on SB 67, relating to lease terms and the imposition of sales and use taxes related to a local professional baseball park district; SB 243, relating to requiring marketplace providers to collect and remit sales tax from third parties and reducing individual income tax rates based on the collection of sales and use tax from out-of-state retailers and marketplace providers.

– 1:05 p.m.: Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy public hearing on SB 215. relating to time limits for correcting violations found by the environmental compliance audit program; and SB 212, relating to fee waivers for state park vehicle admission receipts to pupils enrolled in grade 4.

– 2 p.m.: PSC hearing.

– 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.: Rep. Allen public listening session.

– 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.: Fundraiser for Rep. Tony Kurtz with U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.

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