(Update) Western Wisconsin Roundup: Civil suit filed against the Polk County Sheriff's DepartmentWestern Wisconsin News
-- A northwest Wisconsin man wants four-million-dollars in damages, after he was wrongly accused of molesting a child.
BALSAM LAKE - A northwest Wisconsin man wants four-million-dollars in damages, after he was wrongly accused of molesting a child.
Paul Burritt filed a civil suit against the Polk County Sheriff’s Department and investigator Lisa Ditlefsen. The 61-year-old Burritt claims that the investigator had a “reckless or intentional disregard” of the facts, when she arrested him last December for allegedly molesting an 11-year-old girl he was carrying in a van for kids with special needs. The girl later recanted her story, and said the alleged abuse never took place. A sexual assault charge was dropped, and the case was expunged from Burritt’s record. His attorney, Peter Nickitas, said the investigator knew the facts did not add up – and she still arrested him. Ditlefsen and the county have not commented. Burritt is seeking three-million dollars in punitive damages, and a million for pain-and-suffering.
An agency that serves 29 school districts in northwest Wisconsin will not get millions in federal education funds.
The U.S. Education Department said 16 school systems in a dozen states will share $400-million to develop personalized learning programs, and help teachers better meet their students’ needs. But the Cooperative Educational Service Agency Number-10 is not among them. CESA-10 was the only Wisconsin group which made the final round in the first competitive grants at the district level under President Obama’s “Race to the Top” education program. The agency is based in Chippewa Falls, and it provides a host of services to school districts that range from staff training to public relations. Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, and Beloit also applied for the money – but the requests were eliminated earlier in the competition. The projects that were funded received anywhere from five-million to $40-million each.
Prosecutors now say an Eau Claire doctor sexually assaulted at least 14 children during his medical practice – and police are still investigating other reported incidents. 60-year-old David Van de Loo was charged today with 13 new felony counts – almost all of them for first-and-second-degree child sex assault. He was initially charged in October with exposure and second-degree assault, both felonies, after the parents of a 16-year-old boy complained that their son received sexual contact during a routine medical exam. Publicity about the case prompted more victims to come forward. Authorities said the molestation occurred while Van de Loo served as a pediatrician and sports medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Eau Claire. Van de Loo posted a 50-thousand-dollar cash bond after a court hearing today in Eau Claire County, with the condition that he not have unsupervised contact with minors. Van de Loo is due back in court January 15th, when a judge will determine if there’s enough evidence to order a trial. The investigation first began in August. The Mayo Clinic said it reported Van de Loo’s conduct to the state’s Medical Examining Board on September 11th – and the clinic fired him the next day. Meanwhile, Van de Loo and the Mayo Clinic both face a civil suit filed by a 21-year-old man who said the doctor sexually-abused him at least 10 times between 2004 and last year.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says the construction of a new bridge over the St. Croix River will damage the habitat of three species of rare mussels – so, they will be relocated. The bridge joins Wisconsin State Highway 64 and Minnesota State Highway 36 and is located between Houlton, Wisconsin, and Stillwater, Minnesota. Present in the river bottom at that location are the state and federally-listed Higgins eye, the state endangered butterfly and the state threatened buckhorn species of mussels. The DNR work will not cover mussels on the Minnesota side of the St. Croix.
Some UW-Stout alumni are creating a scholarship in honor of their classmate who was killed in the Vietnam War. Lieutenant John Abrams graduated from Stout 50 years ago – and he died in 1968, when his Navy helicopter crashed after getting hit by enemy fire. Abrams was in the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity – and eight of his frat brothers decided to create a scholarship at UW-Stout in Abrams’ memory. They raised about 41-thousand dollars, and the first John Leon Abrams Memorial Scholarship was presented this fall. Upper-class students in plastics engineering are eligible for the award – along with veterans and their descendants.
Police in Tomah now say that two people found dead in their home in early October died from overdoses of heroin. And investigators are still trying to figure out how they obtained the drug. 35-year-old Michael Bobak and 25-year-old Tracey Small died in a home where two minor children also lived. Police had immediately ruled out violence.
Electric customers in the northwest quarter of Wisconsin will pay six-point-one percent more next year. The state Public Service Commission approved a rate increase for Xcel Energy Friday that would give the utility an extra $35-and-a-half million dollars in revenues. That’s slightly less than the $39-million that Xcel requested. Residential customers will pay about seven-point-two percent more. Large factories get a five-percent increase, and mid-sized business will pay close to six-percent more. The state also okayed a two-and-a-half percent increase in Xcel’s natural gas rates. Officials say it will help pay for a clean-up of a former manufactured gas site in Ashland.