Brenna and Joel Siebold are seen with their son, Leo, 2, at their home in Mount Horeb, Wis., on Feb. 14, 2020. Leo has heterotaxy syndrome, a condition in which his internal organs are abnormally arranged, causing frequent hospital visits for the family. On Sept. 5, 2018, Leo was taken to the American Family Children's Hospital in Madison, Wis., with a fever. Medical personnel reported them for possibly abusing the then 9-month-old, citing tiny bruises on his body. Although they were cleared of the allegations, the Siebolds say the episode left them with lingering trauma. Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch
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Child abuse, water contamination, documenting hate, walleye woes, pipeline safety


Of note: This week we highlight our investigation into the behavior of a former Wisconsin child abuse doctor who is now practicing in Alaska. Reported by Wisconsin Watch Managing Editor Dee J. Hall, the story reveals that Dr. Barbara Knox recently left her position at the University of Wisconsin-affiliated American Family Children’s Hospital following an investigation into complaints that she bullied colleagues. Hall also documents the story of a Mount Horeb couple who, in an investigation initiated by Knox’s team, were wrongly suspected of abusing their infant son. Surgical scars were listed as bruises, false information was inserted into his medical record and Knox allegedly misrepresented herself as a “blood specialist.” Authorities cleared the couple of abuse, but the episode left them “petrified” of seeking emergency medical care for their children. This story adds to the national scrutiny over how equipped some doctors are to separate legitimate cases of child abuse from accidents or underlying medical conditions.

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Brenna and Joel Siebold are seen with their son, Leo, 2, at their home in Mount Horeb, Wis., on Feb. 14. Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch

University of Wisconsin child abuse doctor leaves a trail of accusations of bullying from colleagues, parents

Wisconsin Watch — February 29, 2020

A couple says Dr. Barbara Knox wrongly suspected child abuse. A forensic pathologist testifies Knox pressured him to report an injury he did not see.

Follow-up from the Anchorage Daily News: Allegations of ‘bullying’ behavior in previous job surface against Alaska child abuse clinic director

A faucet is seen in a family’s home in Stoughton, Wis. in 2016. Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch

Several Wisconsin counties take initiative to test wells for contamination

Cap Times — February 27, 2020

Local officials across Wisconsin are gearing up to test wells this year as they seek to gather more data about potential contaminants and how groundwater quality may have changed over time. 

Read more from Wisconsin Watch’s ongoing Failure at the Faucet project. 

Swastikas and the words “TRUMP RULES” and “ANTIFA SUCKS” was spray-painted on a memorial near the Gates of Heaven synagogue in Madisons James Madison Park on Sept. 20, 2017. Courtesy of Jeff Glaze

Anti-Semitic incidents rose last year as perpetrators felt emboldened to attack, Milwaukee Jewish leaders say

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — March 4, 2020

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in Wisconsin has climbed steadily in the last five years, according to a recent local report. Experts don’t believe more people necessarily harbor anti-Semitic views, but hateful people are becoming more brazen with their attacks.

Read more from Wisconsin Watch’s 2017 Documenting Hate series. 

Kevin Reis fishes for walleye on Lake Monona in Madison, Wis., in 2019. Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch

As Wisconsin lakes warm, walleye are feeling the heat

Wisconsin Public Radio — March 2, 2020

Walleye are a staple of Native American diets, beloved for Friday night fish fries and a popular sporting fish. But the cool-water fish’s populations have been declining for decades. Experts say climate change isn’t the only driver of walleye’s decline — but its impact is pervasive. This story is part of a WPR series called On The Table, an examination of what climate change means for Wisconsin’s most iconic foods.

Contractor fined in near-miss of Westby gas line; case prompts calls for new legislation

Wisconsin State Journal — March 2, 2020 

In a case that has raised questions about the need for tougher pipeline safety laws, Wisconsin regulators levied up to $10,000 in fines against a contractor who came within inches of striking a gas main near a Westby subdivision.

The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (wisconsinwatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, PBS Wisconsin, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

The byline "Wisconsin Watch" represents members of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism's editorial and public engagement and marketing staff.