A family friend confirms Michael Madden told him about the alleged abuse when it was happening.
The former stepson of Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Janet Protasiewicz alleges that Protasiewicz repeatedly assaulted her then-husband – his elderly father Patrick J. Madden – by allegedly slapping Madden with an open hand so hard that she left part of a handprint on his face and aggressively pushing the 70-year-old veteran judge so forcefully that he injured his shoulder and almost fell.
Michael Madden told WRN in two lengthy interviews on different days that his father, a now deceased World War II and Korean War veteran who served on the Milwaukee County bench for 24 years, pulled the plug on his short marriage to Protasiewicz, then a 34-year-old assistant district attorney, because she repeatedly physically and verbally abused him.
Michael Madden lived in the Fox Point home with his father and stepmother during their roughly nine-month marriage, and he says that he witnessed and heard the alleged abuse firsthand, which he said was fueled by intoxication.
“I saw it with my own two eyes,” he said.
“It was physical abuse brought on and fueled by alcoholism,” Michael alleged. He said he would “absolutely” characterize the abuse as assaults by Protasiewicz. “I would say it was elder abuse.” He says he would be willing to testify under oath and challenged Protasiewicz to sit with him at a kitchen table with journalists and discuss it.
At 1:12 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13, we asked Protasiewicz’s campaign if she wished to comment on Michael’s allegations that she physically assaulted his dad. We received no response and no denial.
Michael said his father had a “hand print on the side of his face and cheek. He would be very upset. He would say, ‘Well, there’s no blood,’ but it was clear there was a substantial strike. I think his feeling was if there wasn’t blood, he wasn’t doing anything further.” He said his father hoped “it went away” and was a gentle person who never struck Janet.
“I observed a red mark on the side of his face and ear. Janet was the person who delivered the slaps,” he said.
A family friend offered a point of corroboration, telling Wisconsin Right Now in a separate interview that Michael Madden told him on two occasions in 1997 that Protasiewicz had physically abused his father.
“I can corroborate him (Michael) telling me about this in the time frame of that marriage,” the man said.
We asked Michael to re-enact what he says Protasiewicz did to his 5-foot, 6-inch dad using our reporter in his father’s place. [Note on the videos in this article: Media outlets are free to air or use them with proper credit to WRN.] Watch:
“She was belligerent and pushed him and slapped him dozens of times, dozens of times,” Michael Madden said in an interview this week. “It happened on a fairly regular basis. At night, the whole thing would kind of break down. He was, again, 70 years old.”
“The pushing was close to knocking him over.”
Michael was 35 then, only a year older than Protasiewicz when she married Patrick Madden in 1997. Patrick Madden was 70 when he married Protasiewicz, who was less than half his age.
“It happened for months,” Michael said of the alleged abuse.
“I would say that she struck him and pushed him three or four times a week. My father was a very gentle guy, so he would try to get away.”
“He got knocked against the wall a couple of times. If there wouldn’t have been a wall there, yes, he would have gone over on the ground. I saw it with my own two eyes.”
“I saw it many times.”
“I don’t believe she is qualified” for the state Supreme Court, he said.
The 1997 marriage between Protasiewicz and Judge Madden disintegrated at warp speed; in less than a year, it was over. Wisconsin Right Now has reviewed hundreds of pages of divorce records in the case, which grew so nasty that a key point of contention was a battle over a family grave plot. The Maddens said Janet wanted to be buried next to the judge’s first, long-term wife, who died of cancer about six months before the marriage, leaving Patrick vulnerable and lonely.
“The matter of the gravestone – she wanted to be buried on my mother’s side, which was, you know. everybody was aghast at that, but she was digging in on that one, at that point,” Michael said.
Michael said he heard Protasiewicz call his father “dumb and stupid.”
“Janet was more interested in his name and position and the money she perceived he had than him as a person,” he believes.
During the divorce, Protasiewicz contested a prenup by saying she signed it without reading it and alleged the marriage was a “fraud,” but a judge did not side with her on much, court records show.
Michael Madden did not contact the media. Rather, he first spoke about Protasiewicz when a door walker for state Senate candidate Dan Knodl randomly knocked on his door and asked him about the race. This filtered back to us, and we contacted Madden. He said he also told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice about the alleged physical abuse when Bice contacted his family out of the blue and came over to his house with the Protasiewicz/Judge Madden divorce file. Bice has not run a story. In short, Michael was contacted by the media; he wasn’t looking for media attention.
Numerous times, Michael gave nuanced answers to our questions, at times providing answers that were better for Protasiewicz. For example, we asked if he ever saw Janet punch his father with a closed fist, and he said no.
Bice did write a story about the divorce battle of the other liberal candidate in the state Supreme Court primary, Dane County Judge Everett Mitchell, who is African-American. Mitchell’s estranged wife accused Mitchell of sexual assault during a contentious divorce; Mitchell denied the accusations. “State Supreme Court candidate Everett Mitchell was accused by his ex-wife of sexually assaulting her at the end of their time together — though the accusation was never investigated or prosecuted,” Bice’s story read.
Bice also wrote a story about unproven allegations against conservative candidate Jennifer Dorow’s 19-year-old son, who was never arrested nor charged in a drug death. Unlike Michael Madden, who is on the record and on video, Bice’s key sources in the Dorow story did not use their names.
As a result, Michael believes Bice’s failure to report his allegations constitutes a “double standard.”
Protasiewicz was Michael Madden’s stepmother for about nine months in 1997, court records confirm. Court records confirm that Michael Madden lived in the Fox Point house during the marriage with the couple; he still lives there today. In fact, a key reason the marriage fell apart was that Protasiewicz was allegedly unhappy that Michael lived in the residence, according to court records. She sought an annulment, and Patrick responded by asking for a divorce, and the judge granted the latter, dramatically reducing the amount of money Protasiewicz was seeking.
The court records do not mention physical abuse, although the divorce battle grew ugly. We asked Michael about this, and he said that his father wanted to keep it private and out of the papers and didn’t think he needed it because Wisconsin is a no-fault divorce state. He said his father was an older generation Navy veteran who was a retired reserve judge at the time and wasn’t the type to tell the outside world about abuse.
Judge Madden died in 2018. His obituary doesn’t mention Protasiewicz.
The Family Friend Offers Some Corroboration
The close family friend of the Maddens, who was at the home many times, offered some corroboration for Michael’s story in a lengthy interview with two journalists from Wisconsin Right Now. He did not want his name printed. We know his name, however, and spoke with him at length.
We asked what Michael told him back in 1997. “That his father had been struck by her, slapped more than once in his presence, and this was something that he just did not, he couldn’t condone this, and this was going to be a problem,” he said. “He said it more than once, so that’s why it sticks.”
“I believe there was at least one pushing incident,” the family friend added.
The family friend said he also knew Judge Madden’s deceased first wife, Virginia, Michael’s mother. His parents were close friends with them. The family friend says he told his mother about the alleged abuse, but she did not seem surprised. She is now deceased.
The friend said that Judge Madden changed after marrying Protasiewicz and “wasn’t as talkative when I was over there. I could see the difference in his (Michael’s) father.” He was less joyful, he said.
The family friend said Michael told him there was “verbal and physical abuse; there is no doubt about it that there was verbal abuse as well.” He did not personally witness it, however.
“My firsthand account would be being at the house seeing a large amount of alcohol being ingested, especially on her part,” he said.
“When you see somebody like Judge Madden, I don’t think he ever wanted any of this information to go to public,” the man added.
We asked Judge Madden’s two other children, Sheila Casey and Dr. Mark Madden, whether they knew of the abuse. Neither said they did, but they said that wouldn’t be surprising because they did not live in the home as Michael did. Their father was a proud and private World War II generation Navy veteran who wouldn’t run around sharing that he was allegedly being abused. They also did not dispute it.
Mark Madden said that his father did call him and informed him that his marriage to Protasiewicz was “not fixable.” Neither Casey nor Dr. Madden has a positive impression of Protasiewicz, whom they believe allegedly manipulated their father into marriage and wasn’t honest during the divorce hearing.
“Dad wasn’t one to really let the dirty laundry fly,” Dr. Madden said. “Something happened to make him proceed with divorce.”
“Do I trust her? No. Did she lie a lot? Yes,” Casey alleged of Protasiewicz.
A vulnerable widower
When his mother died somewhat suddenly of cancer, Michael said, his father was “at a loss even to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” He described his dad as “extremely vulnerable” and someone who had “never really been on his own.”
According to Michael, “my mother and father weren’t big drinkers.” Once Protasiewicz moved in, “I started seeing a lot of drinking going on, and it was most prominent with Janet,” said Michael. “She would drink quite a bit. We would go through bottles of Jack Daniels pretty regularly.”
We asked Michael to detail the alleged abuse.
“The drinking really escalated everything, and it got worse and worse,” he said. “And, for instance, he (Judge Madden) tried to get up from the couch back there, which you see there’s a narrow pathway to the back of the house, and she would block him and push him and, you know, he’s 70 years old. You don’t want your dad to fall.”
He continued: “So, I sometimes would have to say, ‘Hey, knock it off, just go to bed.’ That sometimes worked. Sometimes it just escalated from there.” He added, “I had to tell her on several occasions – it is my business; that’s my father. And she would get very angry. She might disappear back into the room, and you wouldn’t see her until the next day. She would go to work. It would start up the next day.”
He added, “I saw it on a daily basis” because he wasn’t working and was home every day.
Michael said the conflict with Janet made his father worried it would push him to a stroke. His father complained of pain to his ears and shoulder, he said.
His dad did not call the police, he said, choosing instead to divorce Protasiewicz before it got to that point and ended up in the newspaper.
“She was hitting harder and harder,” Michael alleged. “Again, I said to him, ‘What happens if I’m not here, and it goes longer? You might have to call the police.'” He did not ever do that however, Michael said. Janet has not been arrested or charged in connection with the accusations.
We asked Michael Madden whether he has ever spoken with former Justice Dan Kelly, who is running against Protasiewicz, now a judge herself, for state Supreme Court, and he said no. We asked if he has ever been a member of the Republican Party, and he said no, although he said he usually votes for conservatives. His father was a staunch conservative, he said.
Michael Madden spent time in federal prison for marijuana distribution in 1992 and was placed on probation for cocaine dealing in 1986, although he has no Wisconsin state criminal history since. He was on probation when his father was married to Protasiewicz, and as a result, he said he was not drinking or using drugs during that time period.
Michael speaks about this portion of his life forthrightly.
“Yes, I was convicted of selling and delivering drugs on two occasions,” he told WRN. “I took my punishment. I completed my punishment without any problems.” He said he promised his parents that he was done with drugs and that he lived up to that promise, adding that his only trouble since 1992 has been a speeding ticket. Wisconsin court records back that up.
Protasiewicz, a Milwaukee County judge, is remarried to a Milwaukee-area lawyer.
“It was fueled by her alcohol use. I don’t know if she’s ever gotten help for that,” Michael says.
The conservative Judge Madden, who carried a copy of the U.S Constitution in his pocket, wrote about his pro-life views and his beliefs on divorce in a letter to the editor to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Any society that champions the judge-created right of a woman to destroy her own offspring and opens the door to ‘no-fault’ divorce strikes at the very foundations of civility,” he wrote, adding, “No one can object to abortions that are truly to protect the life of the mother – nor can anyone object to legal separations from abusive spouses.” He wrote the letter before he married Protasiewicz, however.
Court records show that, according to a brief from Janet’s lawyer, Patrick Madden testified that after a mere 10 months of marriage, Patrick told Janet that he had a “bombshell,” which was a request for divorce. His stated reason was that his adult son Michael had found the addendum to the marital property agreement and was disturbed about a transfer of a grave plot to Janet.
She offered to return the grave plot in an effort to save the marriage, but he declined, Patrick testified, according to that brief.
In her affidavit, Protasiewicz said after a full day at work and without warning, she was asked to vacate her home with virtually only the clothing on her back. Patrick offered Janet money for one night’s lodging in a hotel, she alleged in court documents.
Janet entered the marriage in good faith “and with a now destroyed belief that Patrick was a good, honest, and responsible man,” the court records said.
The marriage “created a great deal of hostility in Janet. The level of this hostility shows its teeth in Janet’s outrageous demands,” Patrick Madden’s lawyer wrote.
There are two more stories in this series. They will be running on Thursday and Friday. You can see part 1 here. In it, Michael Madden and his brother Mark Madden alleged that Protasiewicz, when they knew her, was pro-life and had conservative views on immigration. She is now running as a liberal pro-abortion activist.