U.S. indicts Russian spies in breach of 500 million Yahoo accounts

Ellen Nakashima reports on U.S. Justice Department’s charges against agents of the Putin regime – whose leader Trump only recently praised (“I always knew he was very smart!“) – for a vast hacking of American business (Yahoo & realated entities) and consumers:

The Justice Department announced Wednesday the indictments of two Russian spies and two criminal hackers in connection with the heist of 500 million Yahoo user accounts in 2014, marking the first U.S. criminal cyber charges ever against Russian government officials.The indictments target two members of the Russian intelligence agency FSB, and two hackers hired by the Russians.

The charges include hacking, wire fraud, trade secret theft and economic espionage, according to officials. The indictments are part of the largest hacking case brought by the United States.

The Enduring Sadness of Walworth County

“ELKHORN—A woman who son was shot and killed by a Walworth County sheriff’s deputy in 2012 has settled her lawsuit against the county and deputy for $1.1 million.

Nancy Brown, mother of 22-year-old John Brown, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Milwaukee in May 2013 alleging Deputy Wayne Blanchard used excessive force when he shot her son a year earlier at her town of Lyons home, according to court documents.

She had called police because her bipolar son was suicidal and had locked himself in his room with a knife, according to the complaint she filed.

The settlement, signed Jan. 23, brings the case to a close with the county and Blanchard denying any misconduct, according to a copy of the settlement document obtained by The Gazette.

The payment “is being made for the sole purpose of avoiding the substantial expense of further litigation,” the settlement states.

The settlement will be paid by the county’s insurer, Wisconsin Municipal Mutual Insurance, County Administrator Dave Bretl said Monday.

The shooting is among seven fatal shootings by law enforcement in Walworth County since 2010….

Phil Koss, the district attorney at the time of the shooting, said Blanchard’s actions were justified as self-defense.

[Plaintiff’s attorney Antonio] Romanucci said he and Brown were glad the legal matter was resolved.

“We’re very pleased with the conclusion of this matter, and that we were able to avoid trial with a very substantial settlement,” he said.”

Via Walworth County settles fatal shooting lawsuit for $1.1 million @ Janesville Gazette.

See, also Thursday shooting is eighth by Walworth County law enforcement since 2010 (“The incident [on 2.2.17 in which twenty-six year old Kris Kristl was shot to death] was the eighth shooting–seven of them fatal–by law enforcement in Walworth County since 2010 and the third in 13 months”).

Someone the President-Elect Admires

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, overseer of a contentious and bloody crackdown on drug dealers and users, boasted on Monday about having personally killed criminal suspects when he was mayor of Davao City.

“In Davao, I used to do it personally — just to show to the guys that if I can do it, why can’t you?” Mr. Duterte told business leaders at a meeting in Manila, explaining how he goaded police officers to gun down suspects.

“And I’d go around in Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike around, and I would just patrol the streets, looking for trouble also,” he said, according to The Manila Times. “I was really looking for a confrontation, so I could kill.”

Via Rodrigo Duterte on Killing Criminal Suspects: ‘I Used to Do It Personally.’

See also Philippine President Duterte unveils his Trump impression, complete with profanities. (“Oh, President Duterte,” Duterte’s Trump impersonation begins. “We should fix our bad relations. It needs a lot of, y’know, you just said something good here. And you’re doing great. I know what’s your worry about these Americans criticizing you. You are doing good. Go ahead.”)

Attorney General Schimel’s Support for Senate Bill 656

Late last month, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel joined law enforcement officials at a press conference to announce his support for a bill that would offer amnesty for underage drinkers who report incidents of sexual assault (whether reporting as claimants or bystanders).   The bill (Senate Bill 656) would assure that someone could report an assault without worry of being cited for drinking, a possibility that might deter a claimant or bystander from contacting the police.

He was not alone in his support – SB 656 has support from both sides of the aisle, with both Republican and Democratic co-sponsors.

Once again, as with his meeting with sexual assault survivors (despite a refusal of UW-System officials to do likewise), one sees that A.G. Schimel understands that respect for individuals requires that their claims be heard.  Whether their claims are meritorious is a matter to be determined after they’ve had a chance to offer a claim –  failure to hear them out is deciding a matter a priori, a failure that would be inimical to the principles of a society based on individual rights.

(Those who are accused deserve and must have due process – that due process requires taking and processing a claim, not rejecting or pretending that claims have not been made.)

One alternative to hearing claims and offering due process to all individuals is a crude act utilitarianism in which university officials – in the name of protecting an organization’s reputation but truly to protect their own reputations – bury claims, ignore claimants, and ruin the careers of those who report incidents.

The UW System – and UW-Whitewater officials in particular – are accused by multiple claimants of burying claims (1 and 2), contending falsely that publicly-paid bureaucrats cannot speak to claimants, and insisting self-servingly that claims can only be presented one way.

A.G. Schimel’s support for SB 656 is support for the view that being heard can and should legitimately trump the circumstances surrounding when and how one makes oneself heard.  His support further undermines the unpersuasive, risible contention that the Telfer Administration at UW-Whitewater acted on principle in these several matters.

There’s no serious choice in this:  one can embrace the reasoned view of a well-educated, experienced prosecutor who has (sadly) seen many cases of assault in his career, or one can side with the flimsy, self-protective claims of lightweight administrators and their press flacks.

Larry Wilmore of The Nightly Show on Bill Cosby’s Arraignment

 

At the conclusion of his remarks, Wilmore observes that

“Even if he doesn’t get convicted, this is still a good thing, because for too long, the women who have accused him of this crime were not being listened to, because they were being silenced by a powerful man and a complicit culture. And, now, finally, regardless of what happens next, they’re being heard. And that’s a start.”

Yes, it is.

Chancellor Kopper’s Belated Statement on Another Federal Complaint

Today, only after publication of an account of a second Title IX complaint against UW-Whitewater from a second sexual assault survivor, Chancellor Kopper finally chose to issue a statement in her own words (assuming that she wrote it). I have published that statement in full, at the bottom of this post. (For the story on this second complaint, see, Sex assault survivor claims discrimination by university @ Channel 3000, WISC-TV.)

There is no reasonable person who contends that being “committed” is a statement. It’s an action.

And yet, and yet, even the statement finally issued under Chancellor Kopper’s own name reveals the indifference of her prior efforts – she now feels it necessary to begin her second paragraph with the tired phrase, “let me be clear…”

If Kopper had been clear, even in prior words alone, she would not need to remind readers of her self-professed clarity of views.

To those in the university’s Media Relations group – either your chancellor cannot issue a statement without revealing her past indifference, or you cannot draft one for her.

There should be – and so there will be – no end of effort until the institutional misconduct that has failed two women (and perhaps more men and women) ends.

One sees, also, that Kopper falsely professes to avoid speaking about this pending complaint, but simultaneously declares that “[a]ll complaints are reviewed with respect and compassion for all involved.”

No, and no again: that’s the very question at issue here. By asserting that all complaints have been reviewed with “respect and compassion” Kopper most certainly does address the allegations in this pending investigation, by categorically denying their possibility of being true.

A future assault survivor will read Kopper’s words and recognize that past survivors’ claims have been categorically denied.  This is an assurance of a chilling effect against future reporting.

Why can she not see this?  Honest to goodness, is there no one in her office who can think matters through?

Thus she hides behind a pending investigation selectively, contending that she cannot speak only when it suits her.

In any event, a statement will not suffice. A change of institutional conduct – and removal of those culpable of misconduct – is needed here.

See, please, the It’s On Us Campaign and Not Alone, a site for those who have experienced sexual assault with resources of support.

Chancellor Kopper’s statement immediately follows —

Message regarding recent Title IX complaint

Dear Campus Community,

You may be aware through media reports that a second complaint has been filed with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights alleging that UW-Whitewater may have violated Title IX. Because of the ongoing investigation, I am not in a position to discuss specifics. Our campus will cooperate fully with the Office for Civil Rights as it investigates.

Let me be clear, UW-Whitewater has been and remains committed to raising awareness about the impact of sexual violence and taking steps toward preventing any occurrence of sexual violence on our campus. All complaints are reviewed with respect and compassion for all involved.

I know that all across campus there are faculty, staff and students who are engaged in efforts to help promote a campus climate that is free from violence and discrimination, and I applaud those efforts. As a community, we pride ourselves on being a safe and welcoming place for all.

Please understand that if you have been the victim of a sexual assault, you are not alone. There are people within the UW-Whitewater community here to support you. Retaliation for reporting is strictly prohibited. We encourage you to report sexual assault to UW-Whitewater Police at 262-472-4660 or the Dean of Students office at 262-472-1533.

The campus website offers many resources to help keep you safe: http://www.uww.edu/sexual-misconduct-information/keeping-safe

Sincerely,
Beverly Kopper
Chancellor

https://announcements.uww.edu/Details/12523

A Second Sex-Assault Survivor Files Federal Complaint Against UW-Whitewater

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Raechel Liska, aged 22.  Photo from Channel 3000.

Link to Ms. Liska’s video interview, available online

Raechel Liska, aged 22, an honors student and Army ROTC candidate at UW-Whitewater, has filed a sexual discrimination action with the U.S. Department of Education, Civil Rights Division, against our local university.

This is the second federal action that a sexual assault survivor has filed against the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the last eighteen months.

At WISC-TV, investigative journalist Adam Schrager reports on Ms. Liska’s complaint, one that contends that the university’s conduct in her case is “reflective of a systemic gender-based (response) that favored [her] male assailant.” See, Sex assault survivor claims discrimination by university @ Channel 3000, WISC-TV.

Assaulted twice

Ms. Liska was violently assaulted, but when she sought recourse – as federal law (and mere humanity) – requires, she met with a further tragedy:

“I got assaulted twice,” Liska said. “Once by my attacker, which was the traumatic, horrific part, but again by the school, which was the betrayal.”

Liska said UWW Dean of Students Mary Beth Mackin violated her civil rights by refusing to interview two witnesses and by not accepting either the police report or her medical records stemming from the incident. She also asserts Mackin did not issue a no-contact order against her alleged attacker, even as he retaliated and intimidated her after she spoke to authorities. Further, it was the Army that stepped in and removed her assailant from her classes three months after the incident in question, even after she’d asked the university to do the same multiple times, only to be rebuffed.

“The reason I filed my complaint is because something here needs to change,” she said. “I thought the dean of students would be protecting the students, protecting me. She’s the dean of students. I thought I’d be her priority, but I walked out feeling like protecting the school was her top priority.”

Dean of Students Mary Beth Mackin’s gross misconduct

Ms. Liska accomplished much, and loved the university, but that university treated her injuriously and shamefully:

She also asserts that Mackin never informed her of her Title IX rights after she made her initial report and did not provide her with a sexual assault advocate on campus. Liska remains on campus now studying to become a high school history teacher. She said she’s coming forward now because she doesn’t want any other UWW students to experience what she’s gone through.

“It doesn’t matter to me specifically what their opinions are of the assault itself. What matters to me is how people feel I was treated by the institution I trusted most,” she said. “I want my face and my name attached to this story. I want it to be personal. I want people to take it personally and I want there to be change out of it.”

After Raechel Liska was assaulted, and after her mistreatment from one of the university’s leading administrators, the university still used Ms. Liska’s picture to promote UW-Whitewater as a safe and welcoming place:

The university is currently distributing a pamphlet to new and prospective students that prominently features Liska in uniform on a page titled, “Leaders and Mentors.”

“I am really bothered that the university still uses me as an exemplary image but is so resistant to helping me at my most vulnerable time,” she said.

Raped, ignored and mistreated by her university, and yet used as a public-relations pawn by that same university.

What would be worse: that this university media-relations team is so obtuse that they cannot see the injury use of Ms. Liska’s promotional picture represents, that they are so indifferent they simply do not care, that they are so parsimonious that they will use the picture rather than publish a new one, or that they manipulatively think use of the picture would somehow impress Ms. Liska?

So let us hope, Dieu aidant, that we should never become so contemptible as officials of this ilk.

Chancellor Beverly Kopper hides behind her spokeswoman

Astonishingly, Chancellor Beverly Kopper cannot be troubled to respond to these allegations in her own voice. Instead, she hides behind a spokeswoman’s dull, stale statement:

“UW-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper believes that providing a safe environment for students, faculty and staff is her first priority,” wrote Sara Kuhl, UWW’s director of marketing and media relations, in a statement to News 3. “UW-Whitewater has been and remains committed to raising awareness about the existence and impact of sexual violence and taking active steps toward preventing the occurrence of sexual violence on campus. UW-Whitewater takes all complaints very seriously and every complaint is handled with care and compassion for all parties involved.”

Scripture records that God spoke thorough Moses, and Moses spoke through Aaron, but I am quite convinced that Beverly Kopper is neither Creator nor Prophet – it is a measure of either profound ignorance or arrogance that Kopper would not speak in her own words.

This is the second accusation that directly and specifically names Mary Beth Mackin:

The first Title IX complaint against the school was filed in January 2014. The survivor in that case alleged that UWW administrators, specifically Mackin, missed appointments, hurried conversations and failed to interview key witnesses to her claims. Federal investigators have been on campus interviewing students and administrators about those allegations.

I would invite readers to read Mr. Schrager’s full account.  See, Sex assault survivor claims discrimination by university @ Channel 3000, WISC-TV.  The WISC-TV broadcast story is scheduled to air @ 10 PM Thursday evening, 11.5.15.

Previously, see How UW-Whitewater Treated a Sexual Assault Victim (referring to a story, also from Adam Schrager at WISC-TV, on another assault survivor’s gross mistreatment while at UW-Whitewater).

There will be more to publish on this matter, and updates as developments warrant.

One assault survivor abused was too many; two similarly abused are a grave offense against individual dignity, common morality, and American standards of justice and fairness.

See, also, the It’s On Us Campaign and Not Alone, a site for those who have experienced sexual assault with resources of support.

The BB Gun Shootings in Whitewater

There’s an account from WISC of injuries an adult BB gun shooter inflicted on others in Whitewater on July 4th.  I’ve embedded it below.  It’s a thorough recounting, and the report offers some of those who suffered personal injury or property damage the opportunity to speak directly. 

Personal injury, in particular, can be a hard thing, but there’s nothing hard about forming an opinion on a crime like this: there’s no justification worthy of the term for any part of the alleged accused’s conduct. It’s wholly wrong.

That residents and emergency workers responded quickly is all to the good, and deserves commendation.

How UW-Whitewater Treated a Sexual Assault Victim

I’ve written before about the handling of sexual assault complaints nationwide and at UW-Whitewater. The more one reads on the matter, the more concerned one becomes, both generally and locally.

There’s a new and troubling story about how UW-Whitewater handled an assault victim’s Title IX assault complaint at WISC-TV. In the report, entitled, Graduate speaks about filing Title IX complaint against UW-Whitewater, one learns that a sexual assault victim felt that her experience filing a complaint – in her own words, was

worse than the assault. Worse. A lot worse. I regret with every… coming forward and saying anything.

In response to these specific injuries, as you’ll see in the video, Chancellor Telfer can bring himself to do no more than issue a general, bland statement that all is well on campus. It is impossible to overstate how unworthy is his response, so far beneath the standard of a man or woman in respect of another’s injuries.

There’s much more to write about this administration’s conduct – and one may be assured that I am committed to that long and thorough effort – as to remain indifferent or silent would be inconceivable. Simply inconceivable.

Above one finds the video and a link to the online story. Below one finds a transcript from WISC-TV of the report.

Transcript: Transcript from WISC-TV.

See, also, the It’s On Us Campaign and Not Alone, a site for those who have experienced sexual assault with resources of support.

What the Victim’s Mother Told Walworth County Judge Carlson

It’s both a pity and a disgrace that a fourteen-year-old victim’s mother had to plead with the Hon. James Carlson to sentence to jail the men who assaulted her daughter:

ELKHORN—The mother of a 14-year-old girl sexually assaulted by three men in an Elkhorn basement in 2013 pleaded with judges Tuesday to send two of the men to prison and require sex offender registration.

At the final man’s sentencing Tuesday, the mother’s frustration boiled over when the judge ordered no prison and no sex offender registration.

“This has got to stop,” the mother told Walworth County Judge James Carlson. “We’re not setting a good example for other children in our community. They think this is OK, that all you’re going to get is a slap on the hand.”

About two hours after the mother’s pleas, Carlson sentenced Braden D. Mann, 19, of W5244 County ES, to nine months in jail and five years probation….

See, Elkhorn men get jail, probation for sexually assaulting same 14-year-old girl @ Gazettextra.com (subscription req’d).

It is – and should be – deeply unsettling that a layperson displays a better sense of justice than those who ostentatiously wear the black robes. 

Justin K. Laxton Stole Money from the Wrong People


image
Still Time to
Learn the Craft

One reads that Justin K. Laxton, an employee of a public relations firm, has pled “guilty to theft in a business setting, forgery and fraudulent writings for thefts at Klaetsch Public Affairs Strategies, where he worked.”

(The Dane County District Attorney’s Office is recommending probation with conditional jail time for Laxton, for taking at least seventy-thousand from his private employer.)

Poor Mr. Laxton: he was simply too ignorant, or too impulsive, to see how to get away with taking large sums. 

Laxton foolishly chose a particular victim, when he might have found many victims. 

Taking tens of thousands from his white-collar PR firm rightly made him a criminal; taking many times as much from blue-collar taxpayers would likely have earned him praise, headlines, and a seat at the table to take still more.

In a private setting it’s called stealing.  In a public one it’s called grant-seeking, project-funding, and investing in the future

Ah, well, he’s young.  There’s time enough for Mr. Laxton to hone his skills, redirect his efforts, make a long-term career of profiting on others’ earnings. 

See, Former PR firm employee pleads guilty to thefts @ State Journal.

If Universities Want Federal Money…

If universities want federal money (and they want as much as they can get), then it’s wrong for them to shirk federal legal standards for reporting assault and for proper treatment of those alleging assault. 

(Make no mistake: I’d contend that universities have a duty to manage campuses well and fairly even if there were no federal laws.  Ethical obligations of this kind are prior to law, and exist independently of it.)

Here, though, there’s a despicable hypocrisy: university officials gulp as much federal money as they can get, but of federal procedural standards for victims there may be not even a drop of support.

This libertarian has argued against any number of federal, state, or local governmental intrusions; I’ve argued against as many federal, state, and local expenditures. 

It’s impossible to respect university administrators who seek federal money while simultaneously concealing & mishandling assault claims, or trivializing federal or state standards about assault reporting.   

Administrators of that ilk want to promote themselves at taxpayers’ expense, and then hide their own misconduct from any and all. 

No, and no again: no one’s entitled to that. 

UW-Madison Now Joins UW-Whitewater Under Federal Title IX Investigation

In the Wisconsin State Journal this morning, one reads that a second Wisconsin school is under investigation for its handling of sexual assault complaints.  Dan Simmons writes that

UW-Madison is now the second university in the state to be included in a growing probe of possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The investigation now targets 101 schools, including UW-Madison and UW-Whitewater. The initial investigation was launched last May and included 55 schools, Whitewater among them.

See, in full, UW-Madison under federal investigation for handling of sexual violence complaints @ State Journal.

Investigations of this sort can involve either how a university reports incidents of sexual assault, or how it treats those who are trying to report allegations of sexual assault. 

One should be clear: federal law does not mandate – needless to say – that there will be no crimes on campus.  Federal law simply requires that, following allegations of sexual assault, universities that receive federal money will process complaints thoroughly and treat those involved in complaints fairly.

One would hope for campuses without violence; these present laws simply require that institutions taking federal public money should address allegations of assault to the high standards of which America is capable. 

There are thousands of four-year colleges in America; each one should be able to meet existing reporting and procedural requirements. 

That’s not asking too much; it’s asking only for the fundamental fairness and thoroughness our society deserves. 

What a Headline Says

When someone alleges a sexual assault, or other violent crime, the immediate significance of that claim affects the alleging victim, and one or more alleged assailants.   Fundamentally, violent acts are about actual people, not headlines, policies, politics, etc. 

Even if there were no criminal law, if there were no statutes criminalizing any kind of conduct, still there would be violent, immoral acts.  Even if there were no publications, to report any news, still there would be wrongs and injuries.

There are, however, both criminal laws and reports about legal proceedings. 

Not everyone will see these laws and reports, even the same laws and reports, in the same way.

Consider these headlines:

DA Will Not Prosecute in Alleged Sexual Assault Case

No charges filed against recruit in sexual assault case

For some, these headlines will suggest that there was no actual assault between a complainant and her alleged assailant.  For others, the same headlines will suggest that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute an alleged assailant.  For yet others, there will be concern that a prosecution might have been made, but wasn’t.

For it all, however, there will be others who will rush to another view: that because there was no prosecution over particular and specific allegations, there is no problem of assault at all.  From one development (decided such as it was), these few will declare the absence of any problem.

Those few who seek to deny any problem, to absolve institutions, organizations, and officials of any wrongdoing – even any possible wrongdoing – will see these headlines differently from others.  They’ll see them – and hope others see them – as a general exoneration. 

It’s not, of course. 

It’s just that they’ll hope others see it that way. 

SUNY Stony Brook Failed Sarah Tubbs

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Video Link: Sarah Tubbs of Montrose talks about her ordeal after she says she was sexually assaulted at Stony Brook University, and then forced to prosecute her own attacker. Updated with video as link, 3.4.15.

Sarah Tubbs attended (and was graduated from) SUNY Stony Brook, part of New York’s state university system. It’s part of a public university system not unlike the UW System. (Commonly called just ‘Stony Book,’ the school is about twice as large as UW-Whitewater, but similar in many other respects.)

When Ms. Tubbs sought recourse under federal law after being sexually assaulted, she found that Stony Brook met her rights with an inadequate – indeed a perverse – remedy:

She’s had nightmares, flashbacks and panic attacks since being sexually assaulted last year at Stony Brook University.

Yet when Sarah Tubbs sought the university’s help to proceed with disciplinary charges against her alleged attacker, officials required her to personally prosecute him, she said. Tubbs has no legal training. Yet she had to question and be cross-examined by the man she claims sexually assaulted her in his dorm room.

Tubbs, 22, of Montrose, is suing Stony Brook, which is part of the State University of New York system, and her alleged attacker in violation of Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender at schools that receive federal funding. Under the law, such discrimination can include sexual harassment, rape and sexual assault.

Her lawsuit, filed last month in federal court in White Plains, seeks monetary damages and a court order abolishing the practice of having sexual-assault victims “prosecute their own cases and to cross-examine and be cross-examined by their assailants.”

The alleged attack occurred nearly a year before State University of New York campuses adopted a more comprehensive sexual assault policy in December 2014 at the urging of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Tubbs wants the new policy broadened to specifically prohibit victims from having to prosecute their own attackers at student disciplinary hearings.

See, SUNY grad says school made her prosecute her own sex attacker @ Gannett’s Lower Hudson website.

When Ms. Tubbs submitted to a university hearing as was her right, that hearing did not even consider adequately – in a case about sexual assault – whether she had given consent:

Tubbs was granted an appeal by the university in August, based on a finding that the disciplinary board didn’t properly consider the definition of consent to weigh whether the sex was consensual.

A university official, Jay Souza, wrote in a letter to Tubbs that “he found no evidence that the Hearing Board considered the definition of consent” as spelled out in the university’s student conduct code or applied that definition to “the facts of this case,” the lawsuit says.

Souza said in the letter that Tubbs would be contacted by the university about the next steps, but Tubbs said she hasn’t heard anything, despite her own efforts to reach school officials….

There Sarah Tubbs found herself at a campus hearing – entitled by federal and state law, but by her university denied representation, and afforded a process so paltry that officials did not consider something as fundamental as lack of consent.

Sarah Tubbs has now filed a federal lawsuit against Stony Brook, but the school she attended – as a citizen with rights under state and federal law – compounded an assault with institutional indifference and further harm. For it all, she’s still resolute:

“I don’t think it’s the rape that makes the person a victim,” said Tubbs. “I think it’s the systemic failure that makes someone from a survivor to a victim. … I can honestly say I won’t stop fighting until those systems change.”

The Hunting Ground


Academy-award nominated filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering have a new film now in limited-release, entitled, The Hunting Ground, about campus sexual assault.  The film addresses violence, institutional cover-ups, and the damage done to victims & families from both assault and subsequent, institutional misconduct. 

The official trailer for the film is embedded above. 

(The same filmmakers received an Oscar nomination for their 2012 film, The Invisible War, about sexual assault in the military. The Invisible War earned widespread professional acclaim, having received eleven professional nominations and having won nine.)

Related links:

Review: ‘The Hunting Ground’ Documentary, a Searing Look at Campus Rape @ New York Times.

Taking the Pledge.  “Take the Pledge: commit to holding your college accountable. It’s not only survivors jobs to hold their schools accountable, it’s everybody’s job – students, parents, alumni, teachers. Pledge here and we’ll keep you informed of news and actions taking place on college campuses across the US. We’ll also ask you to take a stand and show your support as our campaign heats up and we solidify screenings of THE HUNTING GROUND on more college campuses.”

It’s On Us Campaign.

Not Alone, a site with supportive resources for those who have experienced sexual assault.

Former Coach Fader Vindicated Five Times Over

It’s been over nine months since Chancellor Richard Telfer suspended former UW-Whitewater wrestling coach Tim Fader, and later effectively fired him (Fader’s contract was not renewed). 

In April 2014, a woman alleged that a wrestling recruit assaulted her, and Fader has consistently said that he contacted the Whitewater Police Department about the incident, and that he (Fader) had someone accompany the accused recruit to the WPD at our municipal building.   

In these many months since, Mr. Fader has been vindicated in his principal claims, (at least) five times over:

1.  Fader was exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing (this never should have been even a question, truly, based on the circumstances of the allegations).

2. Fader, did, as he claimed, see that an assistant coach escorted the alleged assailant so that the accused recruit would speak with officers of the Whitewater Police Department. 

3. A university committee assembled under Chancellor’s Telfer’s direction recommended changes to the wrestling recruiting program, but recommended no sanctions or disciplinary action against Coach Fader.

4.  The National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, in reviews comprising three-hundred pages of documents, recommended or imposed no sanctions against Coach Fader or UW-Whitewater’s wrestling program.

5.  Athletic Diector Amy Edmonds, in published remarks from 2.18.15, admits that after the NCAA and WIAC reports, specific changes have not been made to recruiting visits.

So, here we are: Chancellor Telfer and A.D. Edmonds ended a career, but by Ms. Edmonds’s reported account, she made no specific changes to recruiting.

Chancellor Telfer & A.D. Edmonds rushed to suspend, and soon thereafter to terminate, and announce as much, but now? 

Now, Ms. Edmonds implicitly contends that although she effectively fired an award-winning coach, there was no substantial basis for that action. 

More concerning, here’s how Amy Edmonds, a publicly-employed athletic director at a leading UW System Division III school, describes her responsibility to open government and accountability:

“Certainly we weren’t as transparent, if you want to say that,” Edmonds said. “We didn’t have all these wonderful links and documents and such on our website. Now we’ve done that to allow anybody and everybody to take a peek at what our practices are.”

Transparency of public employees at a public school supported at public expense: you know, it’s just ‘wonderful links, ‘documents’ and ‘such’ on a website. 

Ms. Edmonds generously offers that others may now ‘take a peek’ at all this.

Honest to goodness, could Athletic Director Edmonds speak more glibly and cavalierly if she tried?

Does our university not deserve greater seriousness and commitment from an athletic director than ending a career the way Ms. Edmonds has done?

Does our university not deserve greater seriousness and commitment from an athletic director than these light and flippant remarks about open government?  

Does our university not deserve greater seriousness and commitment from an athletic director than these light and flippant remarks about providing prudently and legally-significant information about keeping students safe?

The very official at UW-Whitewater who acted promptly and practically to alert authorities to an alleged assault is a person who is no longer employed at UW-Whitewater.

That person would be Timothy Fader.

Seventeen Questions: Injustice in Walworth County Wrongly Sends a Fourteen-Year-Old to Jail

Yesterday, I posted about an appellate court decision that reversed a juvenile’s conviction and remanded the case for a new trial.  See, Injustice in Walworth County Wrongly Sends a Fourteen-Year-Old to Jail

Today I’ll post several questions concerning the decision and two published accounts about of it. 

The appellate decision (“Appellate Decision”) is online at State v. Charles C. S., Jr., No. 2014AP1045, unpublished (Wis. Ct. App. Feb. 11, 2015), available at https://www.wicourts.gov/ca/opinion/DisplayDocument.html?content=html&seqNo=134396;. 

The two published stories are from the Gazette, at Appeals court calls for Walworth County new trial in juvenile arson case (“Gazette 021315”) and Walworth County DA says detective, prosecutor acted correctly in juvenile case (“Gazette 021615”), subscription req’d for both Gazette stories. 

This case concerns a burglary and arson at the Bethel United Methodist Church in Sugar Creek.  Three boys – of whom Charles was just one – were suspected in the case.  The crime is serious; the legal question isn’t one of seriousness, but of culpability under the law. 

The question isn’t whether someone damaged the church – the question is whether the Walworth County District Attorney acted wrongfully to obtain the particular conviction of a particular boy (rather than, for example, one of the other two).

1.  Isn’t it persuasive that Walworth County Detective Jeffrey Recknagel gave, as the appellate court found, “demonstrably false testimony that Drake [another boy] had been honest with him ‘every time’ “? (Appellate Decision, ¶. 17.)

Here’s a portion of the transcript (from redirect examination, during the State’s exchange with Recknagel):

Q: And as a detective have you had any training on
detecting honesty?
A: Yes, ma’am.
Q: And from your interview with Drake [], did you feel
that he was being honest with you?
A: Absolutely. And I haven’t had just one interview with
Drake, I had more than one interview and I believe that
every time he was being honest with me.

(Appellate Decision, ¶. 17)

Despite his trial testimony, Recknagel later admitted in a post-disposition proceeding that “Drake lied to him at least three times.”  (Appellate Decision, ¶. 9)

2.  Do Walworth County D.A. Necci and Walworth County Sheriff Picknell think that there’s no difference between honesty every time and dishonesty at least three times? 

If so, does that mean that Messrs. Necci and Picknell get to utter at least three lies of their choice, with impunity?

3.  Gazette reporter Frank Schultz writes that “Necci said that he has read the trial transcript, which shows that Recknagel was saying that people always lie to him at first, but after the initial lies, Drake and Robert consistently told the truth.” (Gazette 021615.) How does Necci’s interpretation contradict or negate the testimony the appellate court cited in Appellate Decision, ¶. 17? 

Recknagel plainly and clearly says ‘every time’ in the trial transcript, and later admitted he, Recknagel, knew the other boy did lie to him, at least three times.

What prior testimony of Recknagel could make the actual, verbatim transcript testimony cited in Appellate Decision ¶. 17 any less false? 

4.  Although this is a case involving a juvenile, and subject to concerns of confidentiality, if D.A. Necci thinks other portions of testimony somehow rehabilitate Recknagel, then why doesn’t he seek court permission for publication of the relevant passages he’s supposed to have discussed with Gazette reporter Schultz?  For that matter, why not seek court-authorization and publish the full transcripts, subject to necessary redaction? 

5.  When Necci reportedly tells Schultz that other trial testimony somehow supports Recknagel (Gazette 021615), did reporter Schultz ask to see those transcripts? Did he see them? 

6.  When Necci reportedly tells Schultz that other trial testimony somehow supports Recknagel (Gazette 021615), did reporter Schultz even ask Necci to read aloud to him the passage that Necci says supports Recknagel? Did reporter Schultz just take Necci’s word for it? 

7. In the second published news story (Gazette 021615), D.A. Necci’s quoted as saying he has the “utmost respect” for Recknagel.  This is after the appellate court conclusion that Recknagel gave “demonstrably false testimony.” (Appellate Decision ¶. 17)  If that’s an occasion to have the ‘greatest possible amount, degree, or extent’ of respect, what would Recknagel have to do to give Necci any pause at all?

8.  Gazette reporter Schultz quotes Necci as saying that he, Necci, “just can’t agree with the notion that my prosecutor took advantage of the defense attorney” who is a licensed attorney who should know the law, Necci said.” (Gazette 021615.  As District Attorney, does Necci believe that his office has no independent duty to justice, to offer truthful testimony or sound arguments, apart from a defense attorney’s own statements?  

If Necci doesn’t believe his office has an independent duty of justice, then how does he explain SCR CHAPTER 20, Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys, SCR 20:3.8  Special responsibilities of a prosecutor?

9.  Does D.A. Necci believe that having a law license is justification enough to try a case – that is, once licensed, an attorney is always capable and competent? 

If he does believe that a mere license is enough, then does D.A. Necci believe that there should be no possible claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, as a matter of law?

If he does believe that a mere license is enough, then how does D.A. Necci explain SCR CHAPTER 20, Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys,  SCR 20:1.1  Competence?

Isn’t it clear that every lawyer is ethically obligated to know that a license is not enough, and that “[c]ompetent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation”? 

10.  In the 2.16.15 Gazette story, Necci contends that the appellate court decision is “over the top” and “unnecessarily inflammatory.”  What portions does he think are “over the top” or “unnecessarily inflammatory”?    

Is his objection merely to tone?  Isn’t it clear the decision (see the embedded document, below) rests on a finding of wrongful presentation and testimony, not mere rhetoric? 

By the way, if it’s all a matter of rhetoric, does D.A. Necci mean to imply that the appellate court might have been legitimately inflammatory, but then went too far, and became unnecessarily so?

That would be something like, “Please don’t unnecessarily inflame me, bro.”

11. From the beginning, wasn’t the case against Charles – a juvenile who spent over a year in jail – weak and without direct evidence?  From the uncontradicted observation of the appellate court, “[t]he State did not have any direct evidence that Charles was at the church.”  (Appellate Decision, ¶. 2.)

The DA’s case rested merely on the claims of two alleged, juvenile wrongdoers that a third person was also culpable. 

12.  How strong was the pressure to find someone – anyone – to blame and convict for a church fire?  If this crime had been against someone’s trailer, would the Walworth County D.A. have relied on a case without any direct evidence, and the testimony only of other juveniles?

13.  Does the Walworth County D.A. think that a burglary and fire in one building over another – a shack versus a mansion, for example – necessarily make the case against suspects strong or weaker?

14.  In the first Gazette story, Sheriff Picknell contends that, pending an inquiry into Recknagel’s testimony, he, Picknell would give Recknagel his “full support.”  (Gazette 021315.)  Considering that an appellate court found Recknagel culpable of “demonstrably false testimony,” what does that say about Picknell’s impartiality and neutral decision-making?

Isn’t it closer to the truth to say that Picknell’s response looks like a company-man’s wagon-circling?

If you’re Recknagel, and Picknell is your leader, don’t you and all your colleagues now have free rein to say whatever you want to a court, even under oath?

15.  In the Gazette story of 2.16.15, what message does D.A. Necci send to his assistant prosecutors and law-enforcement witnesses when he backs them publicly and wholeheartedly against even an appellate court’s judicial rebuke for false testimony and impermissible argumentation?

16.  Walworth County developed a national reputation a decade ago for having one the worst district attorney’s offices in America.  See,  A poisoned prosecution at the Center for Public Integrity.  Does Mr. Necci’s office’s handling of this case, and its response to it, provide any reason to think conditions are better now?

17.  Charles C. S., Jr., a fourteen-year-old boy, was confined for over a year, convicted through the actions of men and women found to have offered false testimony and legally-prohibited arguments.  Should that have happened to him?  If his family had been powerful or connected, would it have happened to him?

In any event, should reasonable people be confident in the fairness and thoroughness of work like this? 

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Injustice in Walworth County Wrongly Sends a Fourteen-Year-Old to Jail

On February 11, 2015, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District II, reversed an order of the Walworth County Circuit Court, and ordered a new trial for a minor child, identified as Charles C.S. Jr., aged fourteen at the time of his conviction. See, State v. Charles C. S., Jr., No. 2014AP1045, unpublished (Wis. Ct. App. Feb. 11, 2015), available at https://www.wicourts.gov/ca/opinion/DisplayDocument.html?content=html&seqNo=134396.

Charles spent a year incarcerated after an unjust conviction in which the appeals court found that

(1) a Walworth County Sheriff’s Department investigator gave “demonstrably false testimony” under oath about conversations with a witness,
(2) a Walworth County Asst. District Attorney introduced clearly inadmissible evidence and argued evidence that was not true, and
(3) Charles’s defense counsel was deficient for failing to object to the false testimony or legally-prohibited prosecution arguments.

At the end of this post, I have embedded the written decision of the appellate court, as dated and filed on 2.11.15.

I’ll write more about this matter tomorrow, with a series of questions for those involved.

Today, I’m posting the appellate court decision and order. There are two reasons for posting the ruling, mostly on its own, today.

First, the court’s reasoning and ruling speak for themselves.

Second, in our area, we seldom see original documents like this published, as the pressure against the local press for displaying them causes those papers to shy away.

Americans are, and should always be, of stronger stuff than that.

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Updated: Student who allegedly made social media school threat is located at Delavan High School

9:36 AM:

UPDATE: The phone used and person who sent the threat have been located at Delavan High School, according to Delavan Police Chief Tim O’Neill.

O’Neill said it was a male student and he is in custody at Delavan High School.

Officials said Delavan High School was on full lock-down for about 20 minutes when the phone that made the threat was located at the school.

O’Neill said it does not look like any shooting was actually planned.

Via Student who made social media threat is located at Delavan High School @ TMJ4.

Previously: WISN: East Troy says school threat made on social media.

Via WISN’s YouTube Channel: “Published October 17, 2014.  East Troy superintendent Chris Hibner said a threat against a school in the area was made on the social media app Yik Yak.”