Yes, Journal Sentinel, Joseph D. Rosenbaum’s Criminal Record IS Relevant

joseph d. rosenbaum

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s decision to censor the criminal records of Joseph D. Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber, and Gaige Grosskreutz is just plain wrong and harms the search for the truth. That’s especially true in the case of Rosenbaum, a 36-year-old adult sex offender out on bail for battery and bail jumping accusations, who, a case can be made, was the instigator the night that Kyle Rittenhouse, a juvenile without a criminal history, opened fire.

Arizona courts ordered Rosenbaum, who was accused of molesting and/or engaging in inappropriate sexual activity with five boys, to have “no contact with minors under the age of 18 without permission from the Court.” Rittenhouse was 17, and Rosenbaum was chasing him when shot. That sounds relevant to us.

In Aug. 28, we wrote an opinion piece titled, Why We’ve Decided to Tell You the Criminal Records of the Men Shot in Kenosha.”

On Sept. 2, the Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin’s largest daily newspaper, countered with an article titled, Why we aren’t reporting on the records of the victims of the Kenosha protest shooting.”

joseph d. rosenbaum
Our headline on the criminal records of Joseph D. Rosenbaum and the other men.
The Journal Sentinel headline on the records of Joseph D. Rosenbaum and the other men.

 

That’s interesting: a newspaper censoring facts readers need to fully understand the context surrounding shootings in which a credible claim of self defense has been made. The adult men shot were all confronting, attacking or chasing Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old. The president said Rittenhouse was “violently attacked.” To assess whether that’s true, it’s helpful to know that two of the men accused of doing the violent attacking (Anthony Huber and Rosenbaum) were previously accused in criminal courts of violently attacking people. Of course, it’s also on video.

The newspaper explained its censorship this way:

There is no evidence so far that the backgrounds of the three victims — Anthony Huber, Joseph Rosenbaum and Gaige Grosskreutz — had anything to do with the clashes that led to the deaths of Huber and Rosenbaum and the wounding of Grosskreutz. They are the victims of a shooting, and as far as we can tell their past legal records have no bearing on them being shot during a protest. If more facts emerge that show their backgrounds are relevant to what happened that night in Kenosha, we would revisit our decision. For instance, if there is evidence that any of the victims’ backgrounds could have affected their interactions with Rittenhouse, or if he knew anything about them before the shooting.

Here’s why the Journal Sentinel’s reasoning is flawed and the wrong call:


There IS Evidence the Men’s Backgrounds Had Something to Do With Their Behavior That Night; That’s Especially True of Joseph D. Rosenbaum

Rosenbaum was a registered sex offender who was out on bond for a domestic abuse battery accusation and was caught on video acting aggressively just prior to the shooting, that night, using a racial slur. Rosenbaum is seen pushing a dumpster that was on fire. Witnesses told us people were pushing the flaming dumpster toward squad cars.

We obtained the court records for the Arizona sex offense that landed him on Wisconsin’s sex offender registry (see them here.) They say that he raped, molested or was sexually inappropriate around five boys between the ages of 9 and 11, one of whom was burned. In prison, Rosenbaum racked up dozens of infractions, including multiple violations for assaulting staff.

Minutes after the disturbance at the gas station, Rosenbaum tied his red shirt around his face and head – a witness told Wisconsin Right Now that he spent some time “intricately” doing so, stating he believed he did it to conceal his identity. Rosenbaum is then observed chasing down Rittenhouse, throwing a bag at him and cornering him behind cars. Screenshots show Rosenbaum after he was shot lying on the ground with his red shirt only tied around his head. Why would Rosenbaum try to conceal his identity?

joseph d. rosenbaum
Joseph D. Rosenbaum

According to the criminal complaint:

McGinnis (a citizen witness) stated that there were other people that were moving very quickly. McGinnis stated that they were moving towards the defendant. McGinnis said that according to what he saw the defendant was trying to evade these individuals.

McGinnis said that the unarmed guy (Rosenbaum) was trying to get the defendant’s gun. McGinnis demonstrated by extending both of his hands in a quick grabbing motion and did that as a visual on how Rosenbaum tried to reach for the defendant’s gun. Detective Cepress indicates that he asked McGinnis if Rosenbaum had his hands on the gun when the defendant shot. McGinnis said that he definitely made a motion that he was trying to grab the barrel of the gun. McGinnis stated that the defendant pulled it away and then raised it.

 

Huber was a felon convicted in a strangulation case who was recently accused of a domestic abuse-related crime. He was confronting and making contact with Rittenhouse with a skateboard when shot. Grosskreutz was convicted of a crime for use of a firearm while intoxicated. Since he was armed with a handgun and moving toward Rittenhouse when shot, according to the criminal complaint, that seems relevant to us too. Minimally, we think readers should be told the information so they can decide how relevant it is.

Let’s be clear. The criminal records of all people who are shot and killed are NOT relevant. For example, for the sake of argument, let’s take the active shooter who gunned people down at an El Paso Walmart. Whether the victims had criminal records or not is completely irrelevant in that instance. However, this case is different because it’s arguably unclear who was victim and who was aggressor. Rittenhouse’s attorney argues he was attacked by a vicious mob. Video makes that a persuasive argument. Prosecutors say it’s homicide. Eventually a jury may be asked to decide.

Can past violent criminal behavior predict future offense? Yes, according to studies. In one U.S. Department of Justice study, 83% of prisoners were arrested nine years after release. Violent offenders were more likely to… commit violent offenses. Both Rosenbaum and Huber already were repeat offenders.


Kyle Rittenhouse Was Putting an Arson Fire Out Right Before the Shooting

The newspaper contends that clashes “led to the deaths.” There’s no evidence that Rittenhouse was involved in aggressive behavior toward people before the shootings; he was trying to put an arson fire out, witnesses and video show. Here’s what we’ve pieced together of Rittenhouse’s actions that day, from eyewitnesses (we were in Kenosha for five days/nights), video, the criminal complaint, and his lawyer’s statement.

Rittenhouse worked as a community lifeguard and then went to help clean graffiti off buildings. A local business owner, David Prill, told us Rittenhouse was hired to help guard a local business. He was seen performing medic duties.

Shortly before the shooting, a group of men, including Joseph D. Rosenbaum, congregated at a gas station and started the dumpster on fire. Witnesses Dylan and Justice Putnam told us Rosenbaum’s group was pushing it toward police cars. The citizen “militia” members at the gas station had fire extinguishers and were trying to put it out. That’s on video.

The Putnams said they thought Rosenbaum was chasing Rittenhouse to rob him. Was he? We will never know what he would have done if he had caught Rittenhouse. Here’s what else they told us:

“Rosenbaum was irate. He was looking for some kind of altercation.”

“He (Rosenbaum) was intricately wrapping it (his shirt around his head) to conceal his identity.”

“He (Kyle) looked like the weakest member of the group.”

“I think he (Rittenhouse) came by himself with the fire extinguisher.”

“He (Rosenbaum) accused us of pointing a rifle at him.”

“Rosenbaum was angry (that people were using fire extinguishers)” and said, “Why did you do that?” to people trying to put the fire out.

There’s video showing Rosenbaum pushing the burning dumpster (arson is a crime, as is threatening law enforcement officers with a fire). There’s also video showing Rittenhouse trying to put it out with a fire extinguisher. The Putnams told us this is what enraged Rosenbaum so much that, when Rittenhouse walked off, he chased him down.

What do people think Rittenhouse should have done instead? He was trapped behind cars with rioters actively damaging cars behind him (that’s on video), and someone else had just fired a gun. Do people really believe that Rosenbaum, who was caught on video acting aggressively just moments before, would have exchanged pleasantries?


It’s Not True That the Men Were Shot ‘During a Protest’

It extremely misleading to say, as the Journal Sentinel did, that the men were “shot during a protest.”

Watch the above video. Does it look like a “protest” to you?

We were there that night. What started out as a protest in the park turned into standoffs with police, who were pelted with bottles and fireworks. Law enforcement then pushed people out of the park, and they spilled into city streets.

The clashes broke out at a gas station down the street.

If it was a protest earlier, it wasn’t then. The totality of the circumstances make the men’s criminal histories relevant. They weren’t shot while sitting in church. They injected themselves into a scene of unfolding criminal behavior (we acknowledge it’s possible that Huber and Grosskreutz, also a medic, thought they were stopping an active shooter even as Rittenhouse thought he was under attack. However, it’s the mindset of the defendant that’s relevant to the legal determination of self defense.)


Half-reported Biographies Are Misleading

Anthony Huber
Huber mugshot in past case

The Journal Sentinel and other newspapers have printed stories about “who the men were.”

To give people a sanitized version of their lives is misleading at best. If you’re going to write a biographical profile, tell the truth. Everyone who dies tragically is not a saint with a halo. People are complicated, and these men surely were too, mixes of good and not so good.

Instead, we got an Aug. 26 article from the Journal Sentinel called, “What we know about the victims of the Kenosha protest shooting that killed two men and injured another.” Except the newspaper either left out a lot of what it knew or didn’t do the legwork to find out.

We’re told by the Journal Sentinel only that Huber was a “sweet” person but not that he was convicted of strangulation and false imprisonment. We’re told Rosenbaum leaves behind a fiancee and young daughter but not that he molested children and had an open domestic case.

Half truths are dishonest to readers when they’re presented as the full picture.

It’s not only the Journal Sentinel who did this. The New York Daily News described both deceased victims as “sweet” and “loving.” Were they? Maybe sometimes to some people. But certainly not to all.

The Journal Sentinel should revisit its decision and give readers the whole truth.

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Jim Piwowarczyk

About the Author: Jim Piwowarczyk

7 Comments

  1. There is no proof Rosenbaum was a sex offender and does not appear in the registry. Some offenders are removed from the registry after death; there is no way he was removed so quickly though; for reference Epstein is still on it when you check.
    Seems like baloney.

    1. Maybe the Wisconsin registry, but his (very long) Arizona criminal record is out there for all to see.
      His aggressive demeanor throughout the night says “schooled via hard-time in a penitentiary” – when someone who’s survived such an environment charges you there is, as with a Cape Buffalo, only one action.

  2. This is character assassination, plain and simple.

    It’s also such a stretch and where does it end? By your logic, someone who has had a DUI and is shot and killed should have that DUI thrown in their face after they’re dead (and can’t defend themselves) because DUIs show bad judgment and that could shed light on how they got themselves in a position to be murdered. That argument, just like yours, is dumb.

    I could understand you mentioning that they were out past curfew and even that the one guy had a gun (whether you bothered to explain why is another story). But throwing around terms like “domestic abuse-related charges” and “registered sex offender” is clearly prejudicial and intentionally so. After all, that makes it harder for people to show compassion for them because they were domestic abusers and sex offenders, so who cares if they got shot, right? Let’s not pretend that isn’t the point of your story.

    You said “it’s the mindset of the defendant that’s relevant to the legal determination of self defense” so did Rittenhouse think Rosenbaum was going to rape him or something? Is that how those charges are relevant? Or are they relevant because you think only people with criminal convictions of violent acts are capable of violence? Also, if Rittenhouse looked so young that Rosenbaum knew he should not have been chasing him (as implied by your little comment, “Rittenhouse was 17, and Rosenbaum was chasing him when shot” then why didn’t ANY cops stop him and ask for an ID? Funny, you never address that in your article.

    “A local business owner, David Prill, told us Rittenhouse was hired to help guard a local business.” Really? Hired by who? When? Which local business was it? How long was he supposed to guard it? Because he was seen walking around quite a bit, so if I were that totally-not-imaginary-business owner, I’d want some of my money back. Did you even check to see if this claim was true or did you just take “David Prill’s” word for it? If so, that’s pretty damn lazy.

    How heavily did you even dig into Rittenhouse’s background? Or did you do just enough research to paint a halo over his head? Unless you’re talking about something swim related, “community lifeguard” isn’t even a real job. I can’t believe you’re trashing another paper when this is basically your article: angelic graffiti cleaner and business guard defended his life against evil sex offender, domestic abuser and another man with a gun.

    Give. Me. A. Break.

    Also, I noticed you really downplayed the paintball gun and knife TRUMP-SUPPORTER Aaron Danielson had when he was shot in your other story. That seems like a double standard to me. And this website never reported on why Rittenhouse was treated so differently by Kenosha cops, who clearly communicated with him when they saw him running up with an AR-15 and asked him something about if anyone was injured. Jacob Blake was running away, with a knife (cops say), and got shot 7 times in the back. Or that cops were arresting protesters for being out past curfew, but giving the guys with guns out past curfew water bottles. I mean, there’s a lawsuit that has been filed about that, so why aren’t you writing about that? Were these differences in treatment not worth writing about? Why not? Maybe YOU should be transparent about why YOU are choosing to ignore FACTS about what happened.

    Where’s YOUR article explaining that?

    1. Doran, my first question to you would be: can you comprehend or do you just try to string together a bunch of words then guess at their meaning? Do you really equate a DUI with “ANAL RAPE OF A CHILD”? Let me help you: a DUI is a victimless crime. A rape has a victim and a VERY VIOLENT PERPETRATOR, and ruins a life FOREVER. F O R E V E R. WTH is wrong with your brain? Rittenhouse’s age doesn’t matter to this piece, except to say that Rosenbaum was ORDERED to NEVER have contact with ANYONE under 18. And because you don’t like it doesn’t make it a lie. SEX and/or SEXUAL MISCONDUCT with FIVE little boys; you don’t think any of that is VIOLENT? Perhaps you don’t see the PATTERN of violence? Maybe you should ask your son, or a nephew what it would feel like to have some man’s penis shoved down his throat (or is that hitting too close to home for you?) Think he’ll say “gee mom/auntie, that sounds like fun!”? If you can conjur up even the slightest bit of sympathy for any one of those three less-than-humans then you’re just as sick as they are. Every single fact that these journalists could find is in this series of articles. The “facts” you’re looking for have absolutely nothing to do with the content or context of these articles. Whats with all the pettiness? ie “Lifeguard isn’t even a real job.” “TRUMP SUPPORTER.” Is there some meaning behind that stupid remark that I’m missing? You asked if they dug into Rittenhouse’s background…have YOU…he really doesn’t have one. Did you know that he was there cleaning up the messes (graffiti) that those you support made, and administering medical assistance to injured protesters all day? How you can be so lopsided in your judgement is beyond the realm of belief. But then you’re one of those “How else is my (thief) kid supposed to get money”? people? Lastly, you have no idea what was said, if anything, between Rittenhouse and the cops. There was a ton of confusion in that moment that Kyle was walking towards them. OH! Did you also see Rittenhouse call 911 IMMEDIATELY after he shot the first thug? You’re blinded by emotion and have no room in your head for FACTS. There is nothing here but three thugs who were looking for an underdog and met a heroic bulldog instead. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

    2. I suggest you look up Nate the Lawyer on youtube. He’s a liberal lawyer. But he was previously in law enforcement. He gives a great analysis of the Jacob Blake and Kyle Rittenhouse cases. He doesn’t advocate one way or the other, but gives a lot of information on the context, law, and precedence.

  3. Alex, you might want to actually READ the article before you comment on what you haven’t read. There are at least THREE links in this article you could click on to read the charges, criminal complaints, and PROOF of his sexual violence. They even typed those links in red so even you couldn’t miss them.

  4. Paid protesters that are criminals and child rapist being paid by far left communists billionaires destroying peoples businesses and stealing what they can trying to destroy the country and descent people making it a communist country

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