Morning State News Briefs: Eight rescued from apartment blaze in JanesvilleWisconsin News
-- Eight people were rescued from balconies overnight, while their apartment building was on fire in Janesville.
JANESVILLE - Eight people were rescued from balconies overnight, while their apartment building was on fire in Janesville.
At last word, seven people were taken to a Janesville hospital with smoke inhalation. Most were expected to be released after immediate treatment. Fire-fighters were called just after 2:20 this morning. When they arrived, heavy smoke was coming from one of the apartments – people were trapped on a pair of balconies on the second floor. Officers had to carry youngsters to warmer surroundings, after they were barefoot in the cold with only their pajamas on. The cause of the fire is under investigation, but officials said it started in the basement. A broken water line slowed the spread of the flames. At last word, the local Red Cross was assisting 11 adults and five kids who were members of six families.
A memorial service is being planned for Donald Nichols, a former UW-Madison professor who helped a president and three governors shape their economic policies. The 72-year-old Nichols died last Friday from a liver condition caused by hepatitis. He was a student intern for the president’s Council of Economic Advisers in 1963 – and three years later, he joined the Madison economics’ faculty. Nichols was with the university for 40 years before retiring in 2006. Along the way, he took leaves to serve as the senior economist for the U.S. Senate’s budget committee, a deputy assistant labor secretary under former President Jimmy Carter, the head of former Governor Tony Earl’s Economic Advisory Council, and adviser roles under ex-Governors Tommy Thompson and Jim Doyle. Former Thompson official Mark Bugher said Nichols took pride in being a non-partisan economist who abhorred labels. Others said Nichols was a firm believer in the “Wisconsin Idea,” a traditional philosophy that the boundaries of the UW are the boundaries of the state.
An inquest jury in Milwaukee could decide today whether misdemeanor charges should be sought against three police officers in the 2011 death of robbery suspect Derek Williams. Special prosecutor John Franke summarized both sides yesterday, after he and the jury heard more than a week of testimony. The 22-year-old Williams collapsed in a squad car while in custody, and the jury must decide whether three officers should be charged with failing to render aid to Williams. Reckless homicide charges were mentioned earlier. But after hearing much of the testimony, Franke decided they were not appropriate. Among other things, Franke said the jury must decide whether to accept a finding that Williams died from a sickle-cell crisis which deprived his body of oxygen. He ran for a block-and-a-half from the street robbery he allegedly committed before he was finally nabbed by police. It’s been over a quarter-century since any Milwaukee inquest jury recommended criminal charges against police in connection with deaths in custody, or shootings. Some past Milwaukee officers have been convicted of federal civil rights violations – and members of Williams’ family have told reporters they expect the same thing to eventually happen in this case.
A teacher in the Colby School District is on paid administrative leave, while officials investigate a claim that the instructor sexually assaulted an 18-year-old man over three years ago. District Administrator Steve Kolden confirms that a staff member brought an allegation forward on February 12th – and five days before that, the alleged victim contacted police in Marshfield. Police Chief Gary Jepsen said his officers determined that a fourth-degree sexual assault was committed against a victim who’s legally an adult. The statute-of-limitations in that circumstance is three years, and Jepsen said the case goes beyond that time limit. Therefore, criminal charges will not sought – and the Colby School District will decide on any appropriate punishment. Kolden says he’s not sure when the school’s investigation will be finished. And he would not give until details until then.
A suburban Milwaukee man died last night, after he shot himself in an incident in which he also wounded an Adams County sheriff’s deputy. 55-year-old Thomas Costigan of West Allis died last night from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Authorities have not released the condition of the injured deputy, who was identified as Todd Johnson. West Allis Police said Costigan was reported missing on Tuesday night – and he might have been with his wife, whom he was ordered to stay away from as part of a restraining order. Authorities tracked the two to a home in the town of Big Flats, about 15 miles south of Wisconsin Rapids. When officers went there, Costigan reportedly fired several shots at them – and he wounded Johnson before shooting himself. Adams County Sheriff Sam Wollin said the deputies did not return the fire.
Former Sheboygan Mayor Bob Ryan will pay $770 in fines and court fees to settle allegations that groped a woman’s breasts during a drinking binge in 2011. Ryan avoided jail time when he was sentenced yesterday. He pleaded no contest on Monday to a pair of misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges – which were reduced from fourth-degree sexual assault in a plea deal. The groping incident came during a three-day drinking binge in Elkhart Lake, which spurred a recall election that Ryan lost a year ago. The 49-year-old Ryan told a judge yesterday that he admitted “drinking to excess.” He has admitted a number of times that he’s an alcoholic. Ryan served almost three years of his only four-year term to which he was elected in 2009.
Catholic Cardinal Tim Dolan gave a deposition yesterday about sex abuse by priests in the Milwaukee Archdiocese. Dolan was questioned as part of the two-year-old bankruptcy petition filed by the archdiocese. He led the sector from 2002-to-‘09. The inquiry was led by Jeff Anderson, who’s representing over 500 sex abuse victims who filed damage claims in the bankruptcy case. Dolan is now the Archbishop of New York and a long-shot candidate to become the next pope. Church attorney Frank LoCoco said Dolan answered questions about his decision to publicize the names of alleged pedophile priests in cases that are mostly decades old – a move he said would encourage healing among those victimized. Dolan heads to the Vatican next week to help select a new pope to replace the retiring Benedict-the-16th. A spokesman in the New York archdiocese said Dolan was eager to cooperate in the Milwaukee bankruptcy case, and he long awaited the chance to answer questions about what happened. The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests says it will press to make what Dolan said public. A court hearing on releasing certain items will be held April fourth as part of the bankruptcy proceedings. Peter Isley of the Survivors Network said Dolan did a lot of quote, “creative maneuvering” without holding church leaders accountable for failing to stop the abusers. Many Milwaukee church officials have been deposed in the bankruptcy case – including former Archbishop Rembert Weakland. Dolan is one of two Catholic leaders deposed recently in the aftermath of the church sex abuse scandal. The other is retired Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Mahony.