Sex assault victims' family wants political ad taken down

MILWAUKEE - The family of two sexual assault victims says a television ad that alludes to their case to attack a Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate is hurtful and should be removed from the air.

The TV spot airing across Wisconsin involves a 2011 case in which Milwaukee County Judge Rebecca Dallet sentenced the victims' attacker to two years in prison instead of giving him the maximum 20-year-sentence, according to the ad.

A family member of the victims — who were 13 and 8 — told WTMJ-TV the ad uses enough detail from the case to reveal their identities.

"It's shameful, it's hurtful and I just need these ads to be taken down," said the family member, who asked for anonymity from WTMJ-TV.

The Associated Press and many news organizations typically do not identify sexual assault victims.

The ad is paid for by the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Issues Mobilization Council, which supports Dallet's opponent, Sauk County Judge Michael Screnock. His campaign is not responsible for the ad and is not affiliated with the group.

The race is officially nonpartisan but Republicans and right-leaning groups such as business are generally supporting Screnock while Democrats and groups such as Planned Parenthood are backing Dallet. The election is Tuesday.

The manufacturers group said in a statement that the public should know about Dallet's record and that the ad "merely repeats publicly available information from public records and information that has already been reported on by several news organizations."

"In fact, the state's largest newspaper reported on Judge Dallet's light sentence in this case earlier this year," the statement said. The statement did not address whether the group would consider taking down the ad or how long it will be broadcast.

The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office said in a statement that the ad "disgracefully identifies the relationship of the offender to his victim." The DA's office said they learned about the ad from the victims' family.

Tuesday's election is nonpartisan on paper but Dallet is liberal and Screnock is conservative. The court is currently controlled 5-2 by conservatives.

Dallet's campaign said they've had no contact with the victims' family.

Screnock spokesman Sean Langsing said in a statement that Screnock's sole campaign ad has been positive and that a group supporting Dallet has also run negative ads attacking Screnock's work as a judge on similar cases.

"I would also note that as a sitting judge and a candidate for our state's highest court, it would be inappropriate for Judge Screnock to comment on the validity of third party issue ads since this is a topic that is regularly debated and litigated and could very well make its way to the high court," Langsing said.


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