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Flawed forensics; redistricting ruling; GOP election system attack; averted eviction; domestic violence dangers

Of note: This week, we highlight the latest installments of our investigation into a former University of Wisconsin pediatrician whose controversial child abuse diagnoses still reverberate for innocent Wisconsin parents. One story focuses on emotional and financial trauma in seven families who faced investigations triggered by Dr. Barbara Knox’s child abuse diagnoses — before police, child welfare workers or other doctors rejected abuse allegations. Another story features criminal cases in which a prosecutor, a judge and a jury rejected Knox’s medical opinion. Among them is a Fitchburg man who lost his job, car and apartment when he was jailed after Knox wrongfully diagnosed abuse of his son. Wisconsin Watch’s Brenda Wintrode reported both stories. You can find our full coverage here

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Seven sets of parents in Wisconsin say they were wrongfully accused after University of Wisconsin Dr. Barbara Knox determined their children had been abused. All seven were cleared after investigations by police or child protective services. Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

Parents recount terror of wrongful child abuse diagnoses from former University of Wisconsin doctor

Wisconsin Watch — November 27, 2021

As a child protective services worker questioned them in their baby’s hospital room, Greg and Katie Shebesta of Janesville held their nearly 6-month-old upright, allowing the excess fluid to drip through tubes a brain surgeon had inserted beneath his skull. “He was trying to understand if I was a person who would hurt my child,” Katie Shebesta said. Greg Shebesta remembered a torrent of fear washing over him that winter day seven years ago. Dr. Barbara Knox, then-head of the University of Wisconsin’s Child Protection Program, had alleged the baby’s brain bleeding was intentionally inflicted, triggering an investigation. But Knox was wrong. And not just in that case.

Read more from Wisconsin Watch: Child abuse cases sparked by Dr. Barbara Knox rejected by Wisconsin judge, jury and prosecutor 

GOP targets Wisconsin elections system, nonpartisan director

Associated Press — December 1, 2021

Wisconsin Republicans are working to discredit the bipartisan system they created to run elections in the state after President Joe Biden narrowly won last year’s presidential race, making the political battleground the latest front in the national push by the GOP to exert more control over elections. Republican lawmakers are continuing to attack the state’s well-regarded election administrator in a pressure campaign to have her resign, an apparent attempt to install a GOP partisan in the position ahead of next year’s midterm elections.

Read more from the Wisconsin State Journal: In partisan election probe, Michael Gableman goes after mayors, media and Facebook’s Zuckerberg

The Wisconsin Supreme Court hearing room in the state Capitol. Rick Wood / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin Supreme Court says it would minimize changes to current election maps, handing Republicans an initial redistricting victory

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — November, 30, 2021

A narrowly divided state Supreme Court announced Tuesday it would minimize changes it would make to Wisconsin’s election maps, effectively guaranteeing Republicans will maintain control of the Legislature for the next decade. The 4-3 ruling comes as the justices prepare to issue a final ruling that will establish the exact contours of the state’s legislative and congressional districts. Where the lines go has a profound effect on which political party has an edge in elections. In the most significant part of their ruling, the justices wrote that they would limit the changes they would make to maps that were drawn 10 years ago, when Republicans controlled all of state government and established boundaries favoring their party.

GOP targets Wisconsin elections system, nonpartisan director

Associated Press — December 1, 2021

Wisconsin Republicans are working to discredit the bipartisan system they created to run elections in the state after President Joe Biden narrowly won last year’s presidential race, making the political battleground the latest front in the national push by the GOP to exert more control over elections. Republican lawmakers are continuing to attack the state’s well-regarded election administrator in a pressure campaign to have her resign, an apparent attempt to install a GOP partisan in the position ahead of next year’s midterm elections.

Read more from the Wisconsin State Journal: In partisan election probe, Michael Gableman goes after mayors, media and Facebook’s Zuckerberg

After waiting months for rental assistance, this landlord was prepared to evict her tenant. Here’s why she didn’t.

Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service/News414

Reporter PrincessSafiya Byers details how News414 — a service journalism collaboration between Wisconsin Watch and Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service — connected a Milwaukee landlord with information about her tenant’s rental assistance application, helping to prevent an eviction. “I was sure that I would have to evict, but I wanted to try everything first,” the landlord said. “This pandemic took everyone by storm and making sure that a program meant to help is helping felt like a shared responsibility.”

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