The state Department of Justice announced no new criminal charges will be filed after an agency review of more than 30 sexual assault cases that had previously been investigated by the Wisconsin National Guard between 2009-2019.
Still, the agency recommended several policy changes on fraternization and the consumption of alcohol, improvements in how the National Guard investigates sexual assault allegations, and changes in how survivors are kept apprised of a probe.
Wisconsin National Guard spokesman Maj. Joe Trovato said the Guard appreciates the feedback it received from the Department of Justice’s “thorough review.”
Trovato said the Guard fully cooperated with the DOJ review and has implemented all recommendations for improvement.
“Every individual in our organization deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and our number one priority is to create an environment where everyone feels safe and protected in coming forward to report misconduct,” Trovato said.
Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, who had been the state’s adjutant general since 2007, resigned at the request of Gov. Tony Evers in December 2019 after a review found the Wisconsin National Guard created its own arm to investigate allegations of sexual harassment and assault in violation of state and federal law.
Evers signed an executive order that month ordering changes recommended in a report by the National Guard Bureau’s Office of Complex Investigations that detailed the missteps.
The state DOJ’s review included cases that predated Evers’ Dec. 9, 2019, order. They included:
*three already prosecutor by a DA;
*four in which DAs declined to file charges after local law enforcement conducted an investigation;
*at least 12 where charges couldn’t be filed because the conduct occurred outside the statute of limitations;
*three that were referred to DAs for further review;
*three that weren’t referred at the request of the survivor;
*seven in which DOJ concluded further actions wouldn’t result in prosecution;
*one where there wasn’t sufficient information to conduct a review.
The recommendations noted some of the cases involved complaints regarding fraternization between Guard members of different grades or ranks and the consumption of alcohol by alleged offenders. The DOJ found the explanation between permitted and prohibited relationships “complicated and subject to misinterpretation.” The agency recommended the language be clarified with clear consequences for violations.
See the release here.