Latest Sexual Assault Revelation Highlights Disastrous Cost of Walker Mental Health Center Mismanagement, Privatization

Despite More Stunning Assault Allegations, Walker Refuses to Take Responsibility for Dangerous Failures

MADISON, Wis. — Milwaukee County Scott Walker’s mismanagement of the County Mental Health Complex is under even more scrutiny after tragic reports of yet another patient sexual assault, this time at the hands of a security guard hired as part of Walker’s failed effort to privatize county services.

A WISN-TV investigation this week revealed a mental health patient was sexually assaulted two years ago by a security guard hired to transport patients. Walker’s administration had outsourced transportation of patients to a private firm, Wisconsin Security Police Services, which hired the guard. [WISN-TV, 5/18/2010]

“The callous indifference of Scott Walker’s administration towards the deplorable assaults against its patients is only outmatched by Walker’s stubborn reliance on privatizing public services,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “After apologizing to the patients and their families, the second thing Walker needs to do is abandon his failed and dangerous privatizing schemes once and for all.”

According to the WISN report, the perpetrator had no valid license to work security and was an ex-con with a history of prior arrests and was on bail when he assaulted the victim. [WISN-TV, 5/18/2010]

Walker’s County Mental Health Complex has been plagued by both understaffing and administrative mismanagement. The federal government threatened action due to chronic assaults on patients, and even more troubling, reports surfaced of sexual assaults of female patients at the hands of violent male offenders in shared housing units. Tragically, the latest case only underscores the widespread failure of the Walker administration, including:

Walker has refused to fire the administrator in charge of overseeing the Mental Health Complex, despite reports in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that “the county’s top mental health official told County Board members that increased sexual assaults of female patients at the complex were a trade-off for reduced male-on-male violence achieved by housing male and female patients in the same unit.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5/12/2010]

In February, when reports of sexual assault of patients were raised in the media, a Walker official downplayed the attacks, saying, “This is not a case where there was a fatality or serious injury.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 2/12/2010]

Just a month ago the public learned that another private security firm under contract from the Walker administration had hired a convicted offender to manage courthouse security guards, including Children’s Court security. The private firm remained under contract by Walker’s office, even after it was discovered the firm knew of its employee’s misdemeanor offenses – drinking while armed, disorderly conduct and sexual overtures to male subordinates in his department. [WMTJ-TV, 4/15/2010]

“Scott Walker was criticized by Mark Neumann earlier this week for taking so much ‘personal time’ to campaign for governor,” said Ross. “How much suffering do these patients have to endure before Scott Walker gets off his campaign motorcycle and does something to protect them?”

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One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.