There are now 4 people accusing Janet Protasiewicz of abusing her former husband Judge Patrick J. Madden, including two named sources who say they saw the alleged physical abuse with their own eyes. Yet the media remain silent.
A second on-the-record eyewitness, Jonathan Ehr, told Wisconsin Right Now that he saw Janet Protasiewicz physically abuse Milwaukee County Judge Patrick J. Madden, her then-husband, when she was a 34-year-old Milwaukee County assistant district attorney.
Protasiewicz has not responded to the allegations that she physically abused her former husband. She has not denied them, despite being given the opportunity for more than a day.
Jonathan Ehr, 65, is a former Milwaukee restaurant and bar owner who is long-time friends with the Madden family. His attorney father was also friends with Judge Madden for decades. Ehr, a self-described “liberal” who used to run the Ardmore on the Marquette campus, was at the Madden home growing up and throughout the years, including during the judge’s 1997 short-term marriage to Protasiewicz, he said.
We recorded Ehr saying that he saw Protasiewicz “push and shove,” Judge Madden, and he believes it crossed a line. He also says Madden had injuries on his face and said they were caused by Protasiewicz. It all dates to 1997.
When we asked about any physical abuse from Protasiewicz, then 34, to her 70-year-old then-husband retired and reserve Judge Madden, Ehr responded:
“Physically, I, you know, I saw her like push and shove him, and that kind of thing. You know, ‘I don’t want to go, I’m not up for that, I don’t want to do it,’ and, you know, she’s, kind of, kind of abusive that way. I don’t think she realized that he was as old as he was, you know. She shouldn’t have been treating him that way. It’s the age difference again, you know. She just didn’t understand how to handle him. She had some other issues as well that I remember the judge saying and talking about.”
Jon Ehr told us he saw that with his “own eyes” on two occasions at the Madden home, one time by the front door. He said the push/shove was “not in a loving way” and that the judge said Protasiewicz was “aggressive” toward him. [Ehr also says that he heard Protasiewicz use the “N word” racial slur to refer to blacks. You can read about those accusations here.]
In addition, we have interviewed another person who says she heard about the alleged abuse years ago. Rita, who is in her 80s, lived in a Florida condo complex where the judge would stay after his divorce. She still lives there.
“I know she was abusive to him. She was very abusive. The whole thing was very sad. It was a bad situation. He was not proud of that moment,” said Rita of Protasiewicz. Rita said she was told Protasiewicz “was not a nice person.”
Rita said she learned this all years ago, but she couldn’t remember whether she heard it from Judge Madden’s son Michael Madden or Judge Madden himself because it was so long ago. “She’s not fit to run in the office,” concluded Rita, who, unlike Ehr, does not claim to have seen the alleged abuse firsthand.
We have Rita’s last name, but she did not want it printed because of the contentiousness of the state Supreme Court race. In a previous story, we reported that Michael Madden, Protasiewicz’s former stepson, also says he saw Protasiewicz slap the judge on the face with an open hand and push him.
Wisconsin Right Now also previously reported that another family friend told us that Michael told him about the alleged physical abuse in 1997, when it happened. We have his name and spoke to him at length, but, like Rita, he does not want his name printed. That brings the total number of people making abuse allegations against Protasiewicz to four, with two on-the-record as alleged firsthand witnesses.
Jon Ehr said he had no problem going on the record. He says that he didn’t think Protasiewicz was trying purposely to physically hurt the judge, but rather wasn’t appreciating that he was an elderly man, but he says it was forceful enough that the judge ended up with injuries and said it was not done in a “loving way” and crossed a line.
He says he saw actual injuries on the judge’s face and that the 5 foot 6 inch tall Judge Madden (who died in 2018) said Protasiewicz caused them. (Michael Madden also described seeing injuries on his dad’s face and says Protasiewicz pushed Judge Madden so hard the elderly man almost fell.)
“It was a strange relationship because of the age difference,” Ehr said.
“He did say that, you know, he had like a red mark, a couple red marks on his neck and his face, and he told me, ‘Oh, she did that.’ I said, ‘C’mon judge.’ He said, “No, she did that,’ he said, ‘You know she drinks here, and she drinks at noon. She’s drinking all the time, and she doesn’t know what she’s even doing sometimes, you know.’ I’m like, ‘Well, shouldn’t really be drinking at noon, you know.’ It’s one of those things,” Ehr said. He said the judge was referring to Protasiewicz.
We also asked Protasiewicz about Ehr’s claims about drinking and received no response. She told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in her only public comments on the marriage that it was a “very strange” time in her life, saying her dad had just died, and, “It’s a period of my life that was so uncomfortable; I don’t even really talk about it.”
Asked whether he felt what he saw Protasiewicz allegedly do to Judge Madden crossed a line, Ehr said, “Oh yeah, oh yeah. Well, he’s was, he’s too old to be treated that way, number one. No, you don’t treat anybody that way as far as I’m concerned, you know. I don’t know if it’s because she was drinking or… You know, I can’t, I can’t honestly say. Maybe she was that way all the time. I doubt it or he wouldn’t have been with her, although that certainly didn’t last that long, did it?”
We asked Ehr, “You actually saw the red marks on the judge’s – did you say on his neck and his face?”
“The back of his neck here, yeah, and right by, by your, by your, by your, cheek. Right there by your cheek and jaw. Yeah.” He then murmured in the affirmative.
Asked whether he ever saw Protasiewicz slap the judge directly on the face, he said he only saw her slap him on his body. “I just saw the red mark afterwards.”
Asked whether he was following the state Supreme Court race at all, he said, “I haven’t. I’m guilty. I haven’t.”
“I’m really not that political of a person, no, that’s right,” said Ehr.
“You know, I’m a liberal,” he added.
Protasiewicz is running for state Supreme Court as a liberal against conservative candidate, former Justice Dan Kelly.
Protasiewicz was never arrested nor charged in any abuse case and police were not called.
Judge Madden “was very embarrassed about it all. He came to his senses. He wanted it on the down low. He was embarrassed for her, he was embarrassed for himself. I think publicly he would have been very embarrassed. It wasn’t a good fit,” said Ehr.
“One time, me and my father stopped by, and we were with the judge and he said, ‘Tom, I have to get out of this. I’m embarrassed. I don’t know to do. I’m beside myself that I had this happen,'” said Ehr. He said Madden, a recently retired reserve judge at the time, was referring to his marriage to Protasiewicz.
Jon’s dad, Thomas Ehr, a business and real estate attorney in the Milwaukee area, died in 2021.
Judge Madden’s first long-time wife, Michael’s mother, had died suddenly of cancer only a few months before he married Protasiewicz, and those who knew him say he was vulnerable and lonely.
The Madden marriage was short-lived. It disintegrated in about nine months time and ended in a very hostile divorce battle. Protasiewicz, who is since remarried, sought an annulment, but the judge granted Patrick Madden’s request for divorce, rejected her attempts to invalidate a prenuptial agreement she says she signed without reading, and dramatically reduced the amount of money she was seeking, court records show. It was so ugly that they even battled over a family grave plot. The abuse allegations were not mentioned in the divorce papers. We will write more about the divorce papers soon.