The county's response
Your cover story 'Predators at Work' (1/19/07) raises serious concerns about the safety of children under the responsibility of the Dane County Department of Human Services. I do not believe that the article fully and accurately describes the response that Dane County made in these cases. The abuses, while tragic, are extremely rare in our system.
First, your readers should be informed of the multiple layers of accountability. The state licenses group homes and is responsible for their regulation, including requirements for background checks of group-home employees. The homes have the responsibility for hiring staff and providing them with adequate training. The group homes are also required to have sound policies and procedures in place.
Counties maintain regular contact with the youths placed in these group homes as well as with the staff and management of these facilities. Each child in Dane County's care is assigned a social worker, who coordinates the child's support needs. These workers are trained to detect potential abuse.
In the case of Gregory Ledbetter, the abuse of residents at Spring House was not discovered until 5 years after Ledbetter left Walden Homes, after he became the subject of a police investigation and was arrested for unrelated sexual offenses. Dane County had no involvement with the Walden case, as it was not the agency that would have conducted background checks, and the individuals involved were adults at the time of discovery.
The first time Human Services was informed of any concerns regarding Spring House was in March 2005. Management of Walden Homes reported these concerns to the department, and the department investigated. Department personnel interviewed Spring House residents and referred potential licensing concerns to the state Department of Health and Family Services.
After DHFS completed its investigation and issued its findings, Dane County requested that Walden Homes make changes in staffing and procedures.
In regard to the Kalscheur matter, Walden Homes first reported the possible sexual abuse of a resident by staff member Angela Kalscheur to the county on June 27, 2005. The allegations had been reported to Walden staff by a former resident, who said he had sexual contact with Kalscheur while he was at Spring House. In response, the department immediately took the following steps:
Instructed social workers with residents at Spring House to assess their safety and welfare.
Followed up with the state for a review of licensing implications.
Directed Walden Homes to alter staff assignments so Kalscheur was not alone with any youth during the investigation.
Requested that Rock County begin an independent investigation so as to avoid any conflicts of interest.
Directed Walden to report the incident to the Madison Police Department.
On or about July 24, 2005 Walden informed Dane County that it had terminated Angela Kalscheur's employment. On Aug. 5, Walden contacted the Dane County Department of Human Services Child Protective Services (CPS) unit to report another report of alleged sexual contact between Kalscheur and residents at Spring House.
Dane County and Rock County worked with police to investigate the alleged abuses by Kalscheur. Dane County continued to closely monitor staffing and operations at Spring House until it closed in June 2006.
The state corresponded on Oct. 26, 2006 with Walden about its concerns related to the Kalscheur matter, as reported in your article. However, the state neither copied Dane County on that correspondence nor informed us of any concerns regarding practices at Spring House or any other Walden Homes facility.
Dane County has taken steps to ensure that, in the future, it is informed of any concerns the state has with group homes where county youth are placed. The county will examine other options to provide additional protection for these youths.
Lynn Green, Director, Dane County Department of Human Services
I received a letter from the Madison Police Department in 2005 stating it was investigating a sexual predator named Gregory Ledbetter. While working in the photo lab at Walgreen's on Monona Drive, Ledbetter apparently helped himself to a picture of my son or made a copy from a roll of film I had developed there.
The police found my son's photo in this predator's apartment and brought it to area schools to try to have not only my son but many other boys' pictures identified. Although Ledbetter never attempted to contact my son, it was frightening none the less. Parents beware!
Patricia Barden, Monona
Disgusting campaign ads
How interesting that Jim Pugh of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce would state that campaign finance reform is not a major priority for Wisconsin residents ('Time for Reform?' 1/12/07). Does he have his head stuck in the sand?! State Sen. Jon Erpenbach hit the nail on the head when he said that WMC knows it's illegally using corporate money to pay for issue ads.
I found the issue ads in the last election disgusting and turned the channel whenever they were aired ' no matter which side they were supporting. The only safe place to switch channels was to public television.
I can't begin to imagine what the political ads for the presidential election will be like, but I do know that I won't watch them or let them influence my decision.
Vicki Halverson, McFarland
In praise of Knox
In her article 'Fond Farewells...And a Good Riddance' (1/5/07), Vikki Kratz wrote that Ald. Isadore Knox had no accomplishments. I disagree. He was very helpful to the Vilas Neighborhood Association. He attended our meetings and came out against the proposed development on the corner of Regent and Monroe streets. His support probably kept a monstrosity from being built. At the very least, it made the developer cut the height down from seven to five stories. So Ald. Knox was a great help to the people who elected him, and I am grateful for his time served.
Charles Sykes has reason to be concerned about the one-third of students not being able to locate Louisiana on a map. After all, President Bush couldn't find it either after Katrina ('Paris Hilton as Mother Teresa?' 12/29/06).
Ethel Doyle, Shullsburg
Didn't like the ad
The advertisement you ran Jan. 12 of a 'sex club' in Milwaukee indicates you have joined those who place profit above human dignity. As a librarian, I abhor censorship and stand for free speech. However, I hope you will cease from publishing images that degrade human sexuality ' something precious to all of us regardless of our gender or sexual orientation.
By printing this ad, you join those who exploit others' sexuality. Please stop promoting the degradation of women. Instead focus on describing the slave trade of women and children around the world today.
Matthew P. Reames