Dr. Mark Madden, the second former stepson of Supreme Court candidate Janet Protasiewicz to come forward, told Wisconsin Right Now on Sunday night that he remembers his brother, Michael, telling him in 1997 that Protasiewicz allegedly “slapped him (her husband) around a bit,” referring to their father, retired Judge Patrick J. Madden.
Asked whether it’s true that she physically abused her ex-husband, Protasiewicz has not responded to Wisconsin Right Now’s request for comment. She has not denied the accusations despite being given days to do so.
Wisconsin Right Now previously reported that two alleged eyewitnesses – Protasiewicz’s former stepson Michael Madden and a long-time Madden family friend, Jon Ehr – allege that they personally witnessed Protasiewicz physically abuse Judge Madden. Both also say that they saw injuries on Judge Madden’s face, and Ehr alleged that Judge Madden said they were caused by Protasiewicz. Both Michael Madden and Ehr, who is a former restaurant/bar owner in Milwaukee who is not related to the Madden family, also allege that they heard Protasiewicz use a racial slur to refer to blacks.
Protasiewicz, then a 34-year-old assistant district attorney assigned to Children’s Court, was married to Madden, then a 70-year-old reserve judge, for less than a year in 1997 before the marriage disintegrated into an ugly divorce battle that centered, in part, over her alleged unhappiness with the fact Michael, then also in his 30s, was living in the home, court records show. Protasiewicz has since remarried, and Judge Madden is deceased.
Dr. Mark Madden, who is a retired orthopedic surgeon from Virginia with no criminal history, previously told Wisconsin Right Now that he did not know about the alleged abuse, but he told us Sunday that he meant then only that he did not actually see the alleged abuse himself, because he did not live in the house or state. In contrast, he said, Michael Madden lived in the home with the couple, and court records confirm that.
However, Dr. Madden told us Sunday that he heard about the abuse at the time because Michael Madden called him during the 1997 marriage between Protasiewicz, 34, and Judge Madden, 70, and told him about the alleged abuse at that time.
He also said that Michael alleged that Protasiewicz was “drunk again and pushing dad around.” He said Michael made it clear that he was alleging that Protasiewicz was pushing Judge Madden around physically.
Dr. Madden is now the third person to tell Wisconsin Right Now that they heard of the alleged abuse years ago. The other two people spoke to Wisconsin Right Now on the condition of anonymity; one is a woman named Rita who is in her 80s and lived in a Florida condo complex where Judge Madden stayed, and the other is a long-time family friend of the Madden family. We know both of their names, but neither of them wanted to have those names printed due to the contentiousness of the state Supreme Court race.
Protasiewicz is running as a liberal in the race against former Justice Dan Kelly.
That means Wisconsin Right Now has now spoken to THREE people who say that they knew about the alleged abuse, although not firsthand, years ago – Dr. Madden, Rita, and the family friend. The importance of these accounts is to show that Michael has allegedly been making the allegations for years, not simply because Protasiewicz is running for Supreme Court.
Corroborative witnesses who were told about alleged abuse at the time it occurred or shortly thereafter were widely used by prominent news organizations to justify running stories during the height of the “Me Too” movement, even in cases where, as is here, police were never called. This is a common verification technique used by the news media, although, in the case of Protasiewicz, so far, the Wisconsin news media have censored the accusations against her, refusing to tell the public that they exist and refusing to tell voters whether Protasiewicz will even answer the question.
According to the Women’s Media Center, which offers suggestions on reporting on “sexualized violence,” “If a woman says a man sexually assaulted or harassed her, ask her if she told others after it happened and, if so, whether you can speak to them. But do recognize that there is rarely a case in which a survivor stands to benefit from coming forward about an attack. They face recriminations, public airing of a painful matter, and ridicule from parts of society that blame the victim.” Presumably, those suggestions can also be applied to accusations of physical violence against a man.
The Center also suggests, “Speaking of allegations and belief, don’t dismiss an accusation just because you can’t find easy corroborating evidence. Seek out others who may have also been affected — whether as witnesses or victims themselves.”
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel sought out such allegedly corroborating people (although there were no other eyewitnesses) to justify printing accusations of sexual assault against Protasiewicz’s former primary opponent, Judge Everett Mitchell, accusations that came up in a contentious divorce, that he denied and into which there was no police investigation.
When it comes to Protasiewicz, there is a media wall of silence.
The news media have also censored the accusations of racial slurs against Protasiewicz, even though Protasiewicz won’t respond to questions about that, either, and even though the Milwaukee NAACP’s president said he wants to see a response from DA John Chisholm into whether Chisholm will review Protasiewicz’s old cases from that time frame for racial bias.
Mark Madden said he believes that his dad wanted a divorce from Protasiewicz because he “couldn’t take it anymore.” Court records show Protasiewicz sought an annulment, but the judge granted Judge Madden’s request for a divorce.
“Alcohol was free-flowing in the house for both of them,” alleges Dr. Mark Madden.
The divorce papers don’t mention alleged abuse. “Dad was very private, very poetic,” Dr. Madden said of the former judge, who served on the Milwaukee County bench for 24 years.
Of Michael, Dr. Madden added, “My brother was living in the house. He’s an eyewitness. He doesn’t lie. I believe him.”
By the time he figured out the “gravity of the situation,” Dr. Madden said Protasiewicz and his father were already headed toward divorce.