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News 01.12.18

12 January 2018 News


An Oshkosh man convicted in connection with a violent domestic incident in Fond du Lac is going to prison. Fond du Lac judge Dale English sentenced Anthony Vera to five years in prison and five years extended supervision. Vera earlier entered an Alford plea to a charge of third degree sexual assault and no contest to misdemeanor battery. Eight other charges were dismissed and read into the record.

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The village of North Fond du lac is the first municipality in Fond du Lac County to adopt an ordinance under a new state law prohibiting social hosting of underage drinking parties. Drug Free Communities of Fond du Lac County says other municipalities in the County that had their own social hosting ordinances are expected to follow suit. The North Fond du lac Village Board this week adopted the new state law enacted after a Wisconsin Appellate Court in 2016 struck down the social hosting ordinance being used by Fond du Lac County. Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s chief deputy Mark Strand says the social host ordinance is effective in reducing youth access to alcohol by giving them the ability to hold people accountable. Fond du Lac County’s underage drinking rate dropped from 28% in 2013 to 21% in 2017. Before the appellate court ruling there were six social host ordinances throughout the county.

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The Wisconsin Legislature provides sexual harassment training for new lawmakers but only some are required to get it. New senators must attend training by the Senate chief clerk and the Legislature’s human resources department that covers sexual harassment. The Legislature’s attorneys also offer orientation for all new legislators that includes sexual harassment training. Assembly leaders say they plan to eventually make that orientation mandatory. The chief clerks in both chambers have received four sexual harassment complaints over the last decade but have refused to release them. One complaint was against former Sen. Spencer Coggs, who has denied the allegations. Two anonymous women said in December that Rep. Josh Zepnick kissed them against their will. He has admitted he did what they alleged.

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A new superintendent at Wisconsin’s troubled youth prison that Gov. Scott Walker wants to convert to an adult facility has been hired. The state Department of Corrections announced Thursday that 24-year agency veteran Jason Benzel has been hired. He will begin the job on Jan. 22. The post had been vacant since the previous superintendent Wendy Peterson resigned in August. Benzel becomes the fourth leader at the Lincoln Hills-Copper Lake prisons in just over two years. The prison is the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging inmate abuse and a federal investigation has been ongoing for three years. Walker announced earlier this month he wants to move juveniles out of it in 2019. Benzel began his career as a guard and has held a number of positions, most recently deputy warden at the Prairie du Chien adult prison.

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