School employees and volunteers would be explicitly prohibited from sexual harassment of a student under a proposed bill that its sponsors say seeks to close a loophole in state law related to instances of sexual misconduct.
“It’s time Wisconsin establishes strong legal protections against sexual misconduct in Wisconsin schools for all students,” Rep. Tod Ohnstad, D-Kenosha, told reporters Wednesday. “If there ever was a bipartisan issue, this is it.”
Sexual contact with a minor is already illegal under Wisconsin law. But the new proposal — introduced by Ohnstad and Rep. Tip McGuire, D-Kenosha; Rep. John Spiros, R-Marshfield; and Sen. Jesse James, R-Altoona — would bar sexual misconduct by school staff members or volunteers. The bill defines sexual misconduct as sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or physical contact of a sexual nature that interfere with a pupil’s academic performance or create an intimidating, hostile or offensive school environment.
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Law enforcement or county agency officials informed of instances of sexual misconduct would be required to report the situation to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Any school employee found guilty of the new law would automatically lose their educator license for at least six years.
“We can no longer allow those who commit crimes against children the opportunity to be reinstated or volunteer, no matter the amount of time that has passed since the committed crime,” Ohnstad said.
A memo from the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau notes that Wisconsin does not have existing law explicitly targeting sexual harassment in schools.
Title IX, a federal law, prohibits discrimination against students on the basis of sex, including sexual harassment. However, the law only applies to schools that receive federal funding, which includes public schools, but not all private schools. The bill would establish sexual misconduct of a student as a felony crime.
“Currently, Wisconsin has prohibitions on sexual contact with a minor, and separately, prohibitions on sexual harassment in the workplace,” the bill’s authors wrote in a co-sponsorship memo. “However, if a teacher engages in sexual misconduct at their workplace towards a pupil, based on reports from law enforcement in these kinds of situations, there is not a crime that can be charged.”
Minnesota and Illinois have expanded laws prohibiting discrimination in schools to also include sexual harassment. Those laws cover both private and public schools.
This morning's top headlines: Wednesday, May 24
Lawyers for Donald Trump have asked for a meeting with Attorney General Merrick Garland as a Justice Department investigation into the former president’s handling of classified documents shows signs of winding down. In the Tuesday letter, which Trump posted on his Truth Social platform, attorneys John Rowley and James Trusty assert that Trump is “being treated unfairly” and ask for a meeting to discuss “the ongoing injustice that is being perpetrated by your Special Counsel and his prosecutors.” Agents and prosecutors have interviewed a broad cross-section of witnesses, including attorneys for Trump, former White House officials and other close aides.
Donald Trump has made a video appearance in a New York courtroom, where the judge tentatively scheduled the former president’s criminal trial for March 25. That date that would fall in the heat of the presidential primary season. Trump had pleaded not guilty last month to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records at his family company, the Trump Organization. Trump glowered at the camera Tuesday as New York Judge Juan Manuel Merchan advised him to cancel all other obligations for the duration of the trial, which could last for several weeks. Trump has portrayed the New York case and the other investigations he faces as a coordinated effort to sully his reelection chances.
A defiant House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says the debt ceiling standoff is “not my fault” after he sent Republican negotiators to the White House to finish out debt limit talks. But he's warning that the two sides need more time as they try to reach a budget deal with President Joe Biden. McCarthy says he remains optimistic they can make progress in hopes of an agreement before a deadline as soon as next week. That's when the Treasury Department could run out of cash to pay its bills. McCarthy vows, “We’re not going to default." The White House says Republicans have set in motion a “manufactured crisis” by pushing “extreme proposals” that would hurt “every single part of the country.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has entered the 2024 presidential race with an announcement plagued by technical glitches. He’s stepping into a crowded Republican primary contest that will test his national appeal as an outspoken cultural conservative and the party’s willingness to move on from former President Donald Trump. DeSantis tried to announce his bid in a special Twitter feed that turned disastrous. Listeners could hear almost nothing distinguishable for nearly half an hour. He never mentioned Trump in the session that lasted about an hour but said he was ready to fight. “Buckle up when I get in there,” he said.
Police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and public servants who fled the mob’s attack have told a judge that they are still haunted by what they endured, as the judge prepares to hand down sentences in a landmark Capitol riot case. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta heard victim impact statements on Wednesday, a day before he’s expected to deliver the first Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy sentences to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and an associate. Prosecutors are seeking 25 years in prison for Rhodes, who was convicted in November plotting to block the transfer of power from President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden.
The South Carolina Senate has approved a bill that would ban most abortions after around six weeks of pregnancy, sending the bill to the governor who has promised to sign it. The proposal passed on Tuesday restores the ban South Carolina had in place when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year. That ban was overturned by the state’s highest court because it violated the state Constitution’s right to privacy. Republicans have been searching for an answer to that ruling because it left abortion legal through 22 weeks of pregnancy and sharply increased the number of abortions taking place in South Carolina as most other Southern states enacted stricter laws.
Texas would set new standards and ratings for sexually explicit material in order to ban books from public and charter school libraries, under a bill given final passage by the state Senate late Tuesday night and sent to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. The Texas move is the latest attempt to ban or regulate reading material in conservative states around the country. Critics say the standards set in the Texas bill are too vague and worry that books dealing with LGBTQ+ subject matter are more likely to be targeted and banned.
Montana is now the first state to specifically ban people dressed in drag from reading books to children at public schools and libraries. The law took effect immediately after Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed the bill on Monday. Bills in Florida and Tennessee also appear to try to ban these events, but both states' measures apply to performances that are sexual in nature. Montana's law — while it defines such an event as one hosted by a drag king or queen who reads children's books to minors — does not require the event to include a sexual element to be banned. Lambda Legal says that makes Montana's law the first to specifically ban drag reading events.
New York's mayor has asked a judge to allow the city to set aside its long-standing “right to shelter” mandate. Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement Tuesday that officials can no longer house every homeless person because of the arrival of tens of thousands of international migrants. The right to shelter has been in place for more than four decades, after a court in 1981 required the city to provide temporary shelter for every homeless person who asks for it. But with the arrival of 70,000 asylum seekers since last spring, the city has been challenged to find room for all those in need of a temporary roof and bed.
A North Carolina redistricting ruling has set up a possible electoral windfall for congressional Republicans in preserving their U.S. House majority next year, declaring that judges should stay out of scrutinizing seat boundaries for partisan advantage. Experts say four Democratic incumbents are vulnerable when state legislators draw a new map later this year. The state’s highest court in late April threw out a 2022 Democratic ruling against partisan gerrymandering. The Republican-controlled General Assembly now plans to redraw those districts for 2024 elections. Litigation involving congressional maps in states such as Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Ohio and Texas could also rework district lines and alter the 2024 electoral map.
The National Weather Service says Typhoon Mawar has barreled into Guam as a powerful Category 4 storm. It is pummeling the U.S. Pacific territory with high winds, heavy rains and a dangerous storm surge swamping low-lying areas as residents hunker down in homes and shelters. The National Weather Service says the typhoon passed over the northern tip of Guam on Wednesday evening. The weather service earlier warned of a “triple threat” of winds, torrential rains and life-threatening storm surge. Officials were bracing for “considerable damage” including non-reinforced concrete walls being blown down, fuel storage tanks rupturing and overturned cars.
The head of the Russian private army Wagner says his force lost more than 20,000 men in the drawn-out battle for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. About half that number were Russian convicts recruited to fight in the 15-month-old war. The figure was in stark contrast with claims from Moscow that just over 6,000 troops were killed in the war as of January. It is also higher than the official estimate of the Soviet losses in the Afghanistan war of 15,000 troops between 1979-89. Ukraine hasn’t said how many of its soldiers have died in Russia’s full-scale invasion. Analysts believe the nine-month fight for Bakhmut alone has cost the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers.
Jayson Tatum scored 33 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, Jaylen Brown added 17 points and the Boston Celtics staved off elimination in the Eastern Conference finals by running away in the second half to beat the Miami Heat 116-99 in Game 4 on Tuesday night. Derrick White had 16 points, Grant Williams scored 14, Al Horford added 12 and Marcus Smart scored 11 for the Celtics, who still trail the series 3-1 — but sent it back to Boston for a Game 5 on Thursday. Jimmy Butler scored 29 for Miami, which led by nine in the second half before getting outscored 48-22 in a 14-minute stretch that turned the game and perhaps the series completely around.
Jonathan Marchessault and the Vegas Golden Knights are one more win from reaching another Stanley Cup Final. Marchessault had the first of three goals in the game's first 7 1/2 minutes for Vegas in a 4-0 win over the Dallas Stars to take a 3-0 series lead in Western Conference Final. Game 4 is Thursday night. The Knights are looking to advance to their second Cup final in the franchise's six seasons. Adin Hill stopped 34 shots for his first career playoff shutout. The Knights knocked Jake Oettinger out with three goals on their first five shots.