A district judge on Monday blocked a push by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers to remove three men convicted of killing seven people from a wrongful conviction group that gets financial help from the state. State Rep. Brett Hulsey and former state Sen. Fred Risser started an effort last week to defund funding for the group. Gov. Evers filed a response on Friday saying, “The distribution of taxpayer funds should be appropriately controlled and controlled only by the victims’ families.”
Two Wisconsin lawmakers filed a bill Monday evening to make a number of reforms in how the office of Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel prosecutes sexual assault cases, two days after an attorney for a man who was exonerated because he didn’t fight to limit his cross-examination requested those reforms.
Wisconsin Forward, which has been tapped by Democrats to monitor Attorney General Brad Schimel’s office in the wake of controversy surrounding sexual assault cases, filed a scathing report in February that criticized how Schimel’s office handled investigations and prosecutions against campus sex assault victims. The group praised Schimel and his office for seeking to have his report retracted, saying it “set the stage for a series of reforms that will help to ensure that future cases of sexual assault are handled effectively.”
Members of Wisconsin Forward and the NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin organization issued a statement condemning the bill, which would change how prosecutors charged women who expose their breasts or use contraceptives, noting the state has two cases pending in which women were charged with some form of exposing their breasts.
“Wisconsin law defines intimate relationships as between ‘two or more persons who are in a romantic, sexual, or familial relationship.’ … This bill creates a very specific way to define a relationship, one which prohibits the testimony of a woman who has had a child in a sexual relationship from testifying in a child sexual assault case,” the statement read.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has stayed legislation that would narrow a girl’s ability to prove statutory rape and would impact the state’s child sex-crime laws. Critics have dismissed the legislation as a partisan attempt to undermine the state’s sex-crimes law and Bill Clark, a spokesman for Wisconsin Forward, said he expected the Supreme Court to stay the bill.
“There is nothing more scandalous than a statutory rape statute being used to prosecute poor children — and that is what this bill seeks to do,” Clark said.
And in Iowa, a state senator has proposed a bill that could cut millions of dollars from the University of Iowa football program. State Sen. Matt McCoy said he proposed the cut to help fund racial profiling training. McCoy is a Democrat who is black. The University of Iowa only recently reached a multi-million dollar settlement with several black football players in a harassment case. The Justice Department announced last week it is investigating how the university handles reports of sexual assault and violence against women.
“I do believe that there is a link,” McCoy said in the wake of the settlement. “I am not suggesting that it is 100 percent, but I do believe that it’s there.”
Justice Ruth Winters, the Iowa Supreme Court Justice who heads the court’s Civil and Criminal Division, released a statement saying she did not believe there was a link.
“The cases asserted by Senator McCoy are all from the 1980s and 1990s,” Winters said in a statement on Sunday. “None involve the timely or efficient treatment of complaints in order to investigate them.”
Authorities in Omaha, Nebraska arrested four men in a case involving potential child sex abuse, holding the case under investigation for nearly six years and harassing one of the accused for years. A state appeals court said the court should dismiss the case because it was long-pending. The court agreed and the men are still being held at a local jail. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine, who was appointed to the office when the charges were filed, did not return messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.