State Crime and Court Roundup: Merrill restaurant has to pay up after cook sexually harassed waitressesWisconsin News
-- A restaurant in Merrill has agreed to pay $41,000 to settle claims that a cook sexually harassed waitresses – and some of the waitresses were fired for complaining.
MERRILL - A restaurant in Merrill has agreed to pay 41-thousand dollars to settle claims that a cook sexually harassed waitresses – and some of the waitresses were fired for complaining.
The New Pine Ridge Restaurant was taken to court by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The agency said the cook stirred up a hostile work environment by making crude comments to female food servers, and grabbing their breasts. The agency said the women complained – and not only did the owner fail to stop the harassment, the government said some of the waitresses lost their jobs for speaking up. One former waitress will get 41-thousand-dollars under the settlement. And the Pine Ridge owner, manager, and employees will get training about employee rights.
Two judges highlighted a very common problem in Wisconsin, when they ordered fathers not to have more any kids until they pay to support the ones they have. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says only about half of Milwaukee County parents are keeping up with their court-ordered child support payments. And of those who are behind, two-thirds have not made any payments lately. The problem made national news in December, when a judge told a Racine man to stop having babies, and start paying to support the nine kids he had with six women. This month, a judge in Sawyer County gave a similar sentence to a Hayward man – and he ordered the man to tell any woman he meets within three minutes that he’s a convicted felon, and he’s a deadbeat father. Milwaukee defense lawyer John Birdsall calls those sentences “outrageous.” But Circuit Judge Carl Ashley says any outside influence and judicial persuasion can get deadbeat parents to start paying at least some of what they owe. Milwaukee County has 124-thousand parents who are supposed to pay child support. And when it comes to those who are behind, Ashley says “one size does not fit all.” He says those who try to be employed and make payments probably won’t be sent to jail for getting behind. The Milwaukee County child support office helps fathers – and some mothers – get job training, housing, a driver’s license, or help with addictions if they need it. Those in arrears can be held in contempt-of-court and go to jail for six months, but Ashley says it’s a “hammer” that judges would rather not use. Milwaukee County prosecutors have about 40 child support cases pending – and they say criminal charges are the last resort.
The Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese has agreed to give information to Fond du Lac Police about a defrocked priest, as part of an ongoing sex abuse investigation. Police asked the archdiocese last month for information about Jerome Wagner. The church initially said no, claiming the file was sealed by a judge as part of the archdiocese bankruptcy proceedings. But the church said two of its staffers provided the wrong information, and a Fond du Lac detective was granted the file on Wagner – who was defrocked for molesting a child from 1997-to-2001. Yesterday, attorneys for sex abuse victims used the release to ask Bankruptcy Judge Susan Kelley to disclose all records involving priest sex abuse allegations that were deemed to be credible. The lawyers are trying to expose the methods that retired Archbishop Rembert Weakland and retired Auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba used to handle abuse allegations. Victims have accused the church of covering up abuse cases for years, thus allowing pedophile priests to offend again in other parishes. Last April, Kelley said the files had “scandalous material,” and she ordered them sealed – but she did grant exceptions for law enforcement probes.
A Milwaukee man is undergoing a mental evaluation, after he said on Facebook he would harm people at the State Capitol – and was arrested there a few hours later. Dane County prosecutors said a court appearance for 20-year-old Kvon Smith was called off yesterday due to the mental exam. Online court records do not list new charges in Tuesday’s incident – but District Attorney Ismael Ozanne has said he would file five counts against Smith. State Capitol Police and the State Patrol said they were waiting for Smith after they saw his video on Facebook – and he was apprehended almost as soon as he entered the building on Tuesday afternoon. Officials said he claimed to have Molotov cocktails in his backpack, but a bomb squad said they did not have explosive materials. Don Nevaiser, who raised Smith for 12 years, told WISC-TV in Madison that Smith’s mental illness caused his behavior. Nevaiser said Smith has been diagnosed with schizophrenia – and he recently stopped taking his medication for it. In mid-December, Smith was arrested for resisting an officer during an incident at Madison’s West Towne shopping mall. And he was charged with injuring an officer and disorderly conduct upon being released from jail. Attorneys will review the status of those cases on January 28th.
Prosecutors are recommending two years in prison for a former Milwaukee County Walker aide convicted of embezzling $21,000. In a sentencing memo to the court, Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf said Tim Russell used his relationship with Walker to steal money intended to help veterans and their families – and he spent it on tropical vacations instead. Landgraf told the court that the 49-year-old Russell showed quote, “moral depravity.” Russell is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday, after he pleaded guilty in late November to an embezzlement charge. Two other theft counts were dropped in a plea deal, along with a charge of misconduct in office. Russell was a deputy chief-of-staff when Walker was the Milwaukee County executive. He admitted stealing over $20,000 from an annual program at the county zoo for Wisconsin veterans. The other charges had accused Russell of stealing over $3,500 from the campaign funds of two Milwaukee County Board candidates. Russell was charged in a wide-ranging John Doe investigation into Walker’s former aides and associates in the county. All five associates have now been convicted.
Enough is enough. A three-judge federal panel is giving plaintiffs until March 15th to complete its effort to dig up new documents that Republicans may still be withholding over the way they drew the state’s new legislative districts. In a strongly-worded order yesterday, the court said quote, “Very little seems to have been resolved between the parties – rather, they seem to be tip-toeing around their differences, failing to take any action that would actually address their issues.” The court ruled that the G-O-P followed the constitutional requirement of creating new districts with relatively equal populations, with one exception that was later fixed. After the ruling, the Democrats and Hispanics still accused the G-O-P of hiding documents they were supposed to release about the way they drew the new maps. Not much has happened in the case since then. The court said the tip-toeing must stop, and quote, “It’s time to get to the bottom of the who, what, where, when, how, and why” of the matter, “and then to move on.” Any additional legal requests in the case must be filed by April first.
Madison Police said a 20-year-old man with a history of mental illness bought an assault rifle online, and was planning to use it to kill two people. The man was booked yesterday into the Dane County Jail on a possible charge of attempted homicide. Police spokesman Joel DeSpain said the suspect knew one of the intended victims, and he was familiar with the other one – but police were able to stop man from committing an act of violence. Police said the man was going to use an AK-47 assault rifle to kill a 54-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man. The suspect’s mother told the Wisconsin State Journal that he recently admitted himself to the UW Hospital’s psychiatric unit. She said her son is disturbed, needs help, and is trying to get it. The arrest comes during a time when state-and-federal lawmakers are considering gun control measures that include a ban on assault weapons, standard background checks for all gun buyers, and provisions that involve the mentally ill.