WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Former Eau Claire pediatrician not convicted of the 16 sex-related charges against him
After 22 hours of jury deliberations, a former Eau Claire pediatrician was not convicted on any of the 16 sex-related charges against him. David Van de Loo was found innocent last night on 14 charges -- and a mistrial was declared on the other two counts because the jury could not agree on what to do with them. The 61-year-old Van de Loo was accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with 15 patients -- all juvenile boys -- during medical exams. He was fired in late 2012 from the Mayo Health System in Eau Claire. The defense maintained all along that Van de Loo's actions were part of his medical procedures, and he did nothing wrong. Prosecutor Gary King did not say how he would proceed in the wake of the mistrial. Defense lawyer Rich White said his client was vindicated. The verdict comes at the end of a two-and-a-half week trial that was moved from Eau Claire to Superior because of heavy pre-trial publicity. Van de Loo's court battles are far from over, even if nothing else happens in the criminal case. The doctor still faces 22 civil lawsuits.
Robbery charges are expected to be filed today against one of three people arrested in the theft of a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin in Milwaukee. District Attorney John Chisholm plans to file a felony complaint after he gets more information from the suspect. He did not say whether the other two people would be charged. Two men and a woman remained in police custody as of late yesterday. The Stradivarius was stolen January 27th during a robbery in the Wisconsin Lutheran College parking lot, where concert-master Frank Almond had just performed a concert with it. Police said they recovered the five-million-dollar instrument on Wednesday night, after officers were led to the attic of a house where it was found in a suitcase. Officials of the Milwaukee Symphony said the violin appeared to be in good condition. Police said the main suspect was 41-year-old Salah Jones of Milwaukee. He had been linked to the theft of a 25-thousand-dollar statue in 1995.
The search continued overnight for a five-day-old baby who disappeared from a bassinette at her home near Beloit. A woman identified in media reports as Kayden Powell's aunt was stopped by police in Iowa yesterday, while she was driving to her home in Colorado. She left Kayden's house around 1:30 yesterday morning, and was taken into custody on an unrelated warrant from Texas. However, Town of Beloit Police Chief Steven Kopp said the woman is not a person-of-interest in Kayden's disappearance. The boy's mother, 18-year-old Brianna Marshall, called 9-1-1 early yesterday morning after noticing that her baby was gone. A broadcast report said around eight people were at the house on Wednesday night, and they've all cooperated with police -- as have Marshall and the infant's father, 23-year-old Bruce Powell. Officials said around 40 federal, state, and local officers were working on the case as of last night. There are still no suspects. Kopp said the matter is not thought to be a custody dispute, and an Amber Alert was not issued.
Wisconsin's paper-and-printing industries say they'll be hurt by a postal rate hike endorsed yesterday by a U-S Senate committee. The governmental affairs panel voted to make a temporary two-year postage rate increase permanent. It took effect January 26th, and was designed to cut the massive financial losses in the U-S Postal Service. It came soon after another rate hike for inflation, making the total increase six-percent. First-class postage rose by three-cents an ounce to 49-cents. Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin voted against sending the permanent increase to the full Senate, saying it would hurt the state's paper-makers and magazine printers. Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson is also on the panel. He voted in favor of the package, saying the rate hikes are needed to avoid a future taxpayer bailout of the Postal Service. The Quad-Graphics printing firm in Sussex says postage now accounts for over half the average cost of a magazine and catalog. Company C-E-O Joel Quadracci says the Senate bill will result in lower mail volumes, thus making the financial problems of the Postal Service worse. Steve Brocker of the Western States Envelope-and-Label Company says large corporate mailers will look for other ways to get their messages out. He says there's no way they could budget for such a large postal increase. The Senate panel did limit future postage hikes to inflation -- and it shot down efforts to end regulatory oversight of the Postal Service.
An eastern Wisconsin man will spend eight years in prison for driving his car into 10 motorcycles near Fond du Lac, killing two of those bikers. 27-year-old Clinton Lovelace of Hilbert must also spend seven years on probation and 15 years under extended supervision once he's no longer behind bars. The crash happened in May of 2012 on the two-lane Highway 151 north of Fond du Lac. It drew the attention of national motorcycle groups, whose members attended court appearances to show support for the victims. Prosecutors said Lovelace was under the influence of drugs when his car crossed the center line as a dozen motorcycles were heading toward him. He hit 10 of them. Doug Yonkers of Muskegon Michigan was killed, along with Daniel Winsemius of Twin Lake Michigan. Eight other bikers were hurt. The group was returning from a Bridge Run motorcycle event in Milwaukee. Lovelace struck a plea deal last September in which he pleaded no contest to two negligent homicide charges. He also entered Alford pleas to three counts of reckless injury, in which he refused to admit guilt but agreed there was enough evidence to convict him.
Wisconsin will soon have new-and-improved services to help the mentally ill. That's after Governor Scott Walker signed seven bills into law yesterday. At a ceremony in Green Bay, the Republican Walker approved one-and-a-half million dollars to encourage psychiatrists and primary-care doctors to practice in underserved areas. Other new laws will create a consultation hotline for children and teens with mental health issues -- efforts to find more jobs for the mentally ill -- training for law enforcement in responding to mental health crises -- peer-run respite care centers for mentally-ill people -- and community teams to deal with crisis situations. The measures were suggested by a task force created by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos after a pair of mass shooting incidents in 2012 in Oak Creek and Brookfield. Vos said lawmakers would keep looking for other possible improvements in the state's mental health system. He said the goals are to increase access to care, improve coordination of services, and hopefully reduce the stigma that's often tied to mental illness.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether a Stevens Point man was properly convicted in a murder-for-hire case. Attorneys are tentatively scheduled to make oral arguments next month in the case of 30-year-old Carlos Cummings. He was convicted of helping his lover Carla Glodowski hire Linda Dietze to murder Glodowski's husband James. Cummings said police violated his right to remain silent, by continuing to question him after he asked that he be taken to a jail cell. A state appeals court ruled 13 months ago that Cummings' statement was not clear -- and therefore, the conviction should be upheld. Also, Cummings said he should not have been given a sentence twice as long as the actual shooter. Dietze got seven years, while Cummings was given 14 years behind bars. The appellate court said it was not a compelling reason to reduce his sentence. James Glodowski was shot at a park in Stevens Point in 2008. He survived, but lost an eye.
Former state drug agent Dan Bethards reportedly accused his ex-colleagues of illegally modifying their rifles. The Associated Press said it obtained e-mails from the Justice Department relating to the former agent, who was fired last October after he accused a supervisor of violating weapons' laws. Last January, Bethards told administrator Dave Matthews that agents were shortening barrels on their personal and state-issued rifles without registering the changes with the federal government. Justice spokeswoman Dana Brueck told the A-P that the allegations were investigated -- and the A-T-F firearms agency found that one weapon was modified improperly. She said the gun was put into compliance, and nobody was disciplined. Bethards told the A-P he was surprised the A-T-F let the incident go and wondered if quote, "Joe Citizen would get that same opportunity." The state Equal Rights office ruled two months ago that the Justice Department might have violated Bethards' protections as a whistle-blower by firing him. State officials have scheduled a hearing in May on Bethards' complaint that the Justice Department retaliated against him over the allegations against his former boss.
President Obama will sign the new Farm Bill into law today in neighboring Michigan. He'll speak at Michigan State University in East Lansing, to explain how strong agriculture improves the nation's economy. For Wisconsin dairy farmers, the new package replaces government price supports with a new margin insurance program. Payouts will be made when price margins fall below certain levels. Wisconsin cranberry growers will also find a lot to like. Tom Lochner of the state Cranberry Growers Association cites a crop insurance plan and a continued market assistance program which helps boost cranberry exports. House Ag Committee chairman Frank Lucas tells the Brownfield Ag News Service he only has one regret -- that the Farm Bill was not made permanent instead of being just a five-year package. He said it could be more challenging to pass the next time around, as fewer members of Congress have ties to food producers. It used to be that Wisconsin's congressional delegation was unified in support of federal farm programs. But that went out the window as food stamps became more entrenched in the Farm Bill and grew to 80-percent of its annual price-tag. This time, Wisconsin's 10 House and Senate members split their votes on the Farm Bill at five each way. Most opponents said the food stamp spending was either too much or too little.
A Manitowoc man is due in court Monday on four felony charges, after he allegedly drove into a bicyclist who got lodged in his windshield. 20-year-old Jamie Hang was charged yesterday with felony counts of reckless endangerment and causing hit-and-run injuries -- plus misdemeanor counts of hit-and-run and causing injury by drunk driving. Authorities said 56-year-old Steven Gove was delivering newspapers on his tricycle the night of January 25th when he was struck from behind and got stuck in the car's windshield. Gove said the motorist kept going until he got home and then walked away. Gove managed to get out. He walked for about a block until police found him. Gove was not seriously hurt.