Wednesday, January 25, 2012

One Big Question about the Chadima Report

As one of my friends said on a social media site this morning, “Worst time ever for a crotch-grab”.  With the news about Penn State being blared on all media 24/7, John Chadima apparently got drunk and fondled the genitals of a student-employee of the UW Athletic Department.

My question, after having read every word (save for the redacted names) of the report, is not for Chadima, or Barry, or the 4-member panel that undertook the official investigation.   I’m not sure at whom my question is aimed, but it involves UW Police Lieutenant Jason Whitney.

My question is: since it was widely reported by a number of credible local news media that no police agency was involved in the Chadima debacle, why does the report clearly indicate Lt. Whitney was informed of the sexual assault, and where is the official police report?

My question is out of ignorance.  Is it not necessary to file a report when a sworn officer is told of an (at that point, one assumes) “alleged” sexual assault?  When the UW Police Lieutenant was informed of the incident, did he interview either the complainant or the alleged perpetrator, and if so, is there some sort of report on it?

The only reason I ask is not to throw mud at Lt. Whitney or call into question the actions taken by the UW in officially dealing with this incident.  As an old-fart former news anchor, I wonder why, when the local media asked if there was ANY police agency involved in the Chadima thing (the questions were posed when we had no idea what Chadima’s resignation was about), the UW said NO police agency was involved.

My question begs another question: will sexual assault charges ever be filed against Chadima?  Is it not a sexual assault if the victim decides not to “press charges”?  I’m really exposing my ignorance here.

Years ago, I went through some media training offered by the Madison Police and a local law firm regarding what constitutes sexual assault, what constitutes the various degrees of sexual assault; and, I’ve had no small amount of “management training” on the topic of sexual assault and what constitutes a hostile workplace.  I also know, as do most adults who’ve worked with others, that there’s a hell of a lot of sexual assault that never gets reported.

The way I understand it, if actual unwanted touching of genitals is involved, it’s second-degree – not fourth degree, as many of the media are reporting it today.  I’m not sure where the media got their information on this, and perhaps the laws, rules, and interpretations have changed, but when I went through the training, saying something boorish like “nice ass!!!” was fourth-degree; but if there was actual unwanted touching of genitals….not groping through clothes….it was at least second degree.

I guess that’s why I’ve enjoyed reporting, writing, and delivering news for the past four decades: I’m curious about this stuff, skeptical of authority and officialdom, and always full of questions.  If I were actually working this story, I’d ask the questions I pose here to a competent authority on the issue.

I understand that big-time collegiate athletics is very much a tight-knit and closed society; I’m not surprised in any way that the victim of Chadima’s advances was so clearly concerned that his report of the assault not upset the team, which was preparing for the Rose Bowl; nor am I surprised that the UW kept a lid on this thing until the independent investigation was released.

I am surprised at Chadima’s disgusting and completely inappropriate use of power and force, threatening to fire student-employees who didn’t do what he asked them to do.  I am shocked at his incredible lack of judgment in getting involved in a type of incident so similar to what happened at Penn State, while that story was still very much in the news.

And I hope somebody who knows more about this than I do will be able to answer my question.

And to Channel 27’s Tony Galli: you scooped everybody.  Congratulations.


  1. When I used to do criminal defense, I represented a guy whose wife said she had falsely accused him of battery and wanted to recant. I ran that by the ADA and asked her to drop charges, and she said "No."

    I said "But she recanted and doesn't want charges pressed."

    The ADA said "They always recant."

    So not the best way of looking at that, but the policy was to discourage defendants from browbeating victims into recanting to avoid conviction.

    Sexual assault would be a different matter: pressing charges with a reluctant victim means exposing a person's private life and holding them up to the kind of (sometimes) ridicule/shame that accompanies being a victim of assault. The victim here may be gay and not want people to know. He may wish to avoid appearing to be gay. He may simply not want people to think of him as "the groped guy."

    The policy interests in pursuing such prosecutions (avoid pressure to recant) might be outweighed by the particular privacy interests involved.

    Section 940.225(3) makes sexual contact without consent a class A misdemeanor, 4th degree sexual assault. If the victim was intoxicated and unable to consent it raises it to 2nd degree, but here the report is the victim objected, so that would be difficult to prove.

    1. Thanks, Briane. If I were a reporter on this story, I would have called you first.

  2. Has anyone noticed how this incredible shrinking story is completely absent from local sports talk radio? UW athletics has a complete and total muzzle on the story. A high-level official serves alcohol to students without regard to age, gropes one, threatens more than one. Classic sexual predator stuff and there's nothing but silence in most of the media? And what about the pile of hippocrites at the UW Admin. who are fighting a war against binge drinking and State Steet bar...while your Athletic Dept. throws free gulp and grope parties. Seems like so wags could really have some fun asking questions.

    1. "Local sports talk radio" in Madison is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the UW Athletic Department, so don't expect the Big 10-70 or WIBA-AM to say anything about this. The people who do those shows are afraid they'll lose access to UW Sports if they say anything negative about it. It's all part of being in "the big club", and it's a shame.


    1. Thanks, George. Saw this article. Pretty clear explanation.

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