Police investigated man who had served on the Green Bay City Council for child abuse, but no charges were filed against the future GOP lawmaker.
"Police sought a felony child abuse charge against a man who now serves as a Wisconsin legislator after he was accused of leaving 4-inch bruises on his child and told officers the Bible commanded him to strike his children as punishment, according to newly released records. The Brown County District Attorney's Office never charged the lawmaker, Shae Sortwell, and did not explain its decision until eight years later in response to a Green Bay Press-Gazette inquiry," the newspaper reported.
Sortwell reportedly told the police he would hate his child if he didn't strike them.
"Police were made aware of the alleged abuse after a relative discovered the five bruises while giving the child a bath. The relative took the child to a hospital in Two Rivers, according to 35 pages of documents obtained by the Press-Gazette through an open records request with the Green Bay Police Department," the newspaper reported. "Sortwell told police the Bible was 'very specific' about corporal punishment and loosely quoted a verse from Proverbs: 'Whoever spares the rod hates their child,' according to the police reports."
Sortwell also reportedly had a fascinating justification for why he struck the child with an object.
"Sortwell, now a member of the Assembly's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, told police he and his wife disciplined the child with an object rather than their hands because 'hands are for loving,'" the newspaper reported. "After striking their child, neither parent made a practice of checking for injuries, the police reports said."
The Republican lawmaker sits on the Assembly's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.
"After a four-day investigation involving four police officers, two social workers, a child forensic officer — a trained agent who interviews child victims of physical and sexual abuse — a child advocacy staff member and a nurse practitioner, police recommended a felony child abuse charge against Sortwell and a felony charge of failure to act to prevent bodily harm against his wife. Both charges carry a maximum penalty of six years in prison," the newspaper reported.
But Deputy District Attorney Dana J. Johnson did not file charges.
Police redacted the object used to strike the child.
"Police also gave Sortwell a heads up about the newspaper's inquiry and provided him 13 business days — 10 days more than statute allows — to craft a statement that was then provided to the Press-Gazette, an unusual courtesy that slowed the release of the records by at least two weeks," the newspaper reported.
Read the full report.
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