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Detective saw letter, sought charge
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This is a portion of a "Document Feed" supplementary story published to TheDailyPage.com on March 26, 2004.


  1. "Detective saw letter, sought charge," from Bill Lueders' "Watchdog" column of March 26, 2004
  2. From Woodmansee's testimony at the PFC hearing on Oct. 15, 1998
  3. From a brief filed in May 2000 by attorneys representing Madison police in a federal lawsuit
  4. The dated (upper left-hand corner) case intact form
  5. Isthmus' letter to Det. Woodmansee, dated March 18, 2004


1. The Isthmus item, from Bill Lueders' "Watchdog" column of March 26, 2004

Watchdog
Bill Lueders

Detective saw letter, sought charge
File that led to rape victim's prosecution was apparently sent after she complained to his boss

Did a Madison police detective seek a criminal charge against a blind rape victim after she lodged a complaint against him? Did he subsequently lie about it under oath?

These questions are raised by the timing of Det. Tom Woodmansee's forwarding of his police report and other materials to the Dane County District Attorney's office more than six years ago. The office subsequently charged "Patty," a legally blind Madison woman, for obstructing (lying to) an officer.

On Sept. 4, 1997, Patty called 911 to report being raped in her home by a knife-wielding assailant. A month later, after an inept investigation, Woodmansee confronted Patty with his conclusion that she had made the whole thing up. He and Det. Linda Draeger interrogated her in a tiny former jail cell until she recanted, telling the detectives, "I'll say whatever you want." The next day, she returned to her original account.

On Oct. 23, 1997, Patty had a letter delivered by cab to Lt. Dennis Riley, Woodmansee's supervisor, complaining that "your detectives" had used lies and threats to coerce her recantation. Lt. Riley discussed the letter with Woodmansee that afternoon.

Nearly a year later, at a Madison Police and Fire Commission hearing initiated by this reporter, Woodmansee was asked why he never gave this letter to the DA's office. He testified that, by this time, his case file and report had already been sent. An attorney hired by the city of Madison quizzed him as follows:

"Det. Woodmansee, I believe you testified that you had forwarded the matter to the District Attorney's Office prior to the time that this letter was disclosed to you in late October 1997, is that correct?" Woodmansee: "That's correct." And this: "And so prior to this letter coming in or prior to you seeing the letter in late October of 1997, the report that you had done on your investigation would have already been in the hands of the DA's office, is that correct?" Woodmansee: "That's correct."

The letter's timing was also significant in a federal lawsuit that Patty filed against Madison police, after the belated discovery of crime-scene semen led to the dismissal of the obstruction charge. In defending against alleged civil rights violations including retaliatory prosecution, lawyers representing the police argued, "There is no evidence that Det. Woodmansee's decision to refer [Patty] for prosecution was related in any way whatsoever to her letter to Woodmansee's supervisor...."

Patty's lawsuit was dismissed, as was her prior complaint against Woodmansee filed with the PFC. (The initial PFC action, filed by this reporter against Riley, was rejected due to lack of standing and, ultimately, lack of evidence.)

In June 2001, an FBI data bank matched DNA from the semen found at the crime scene with that of Joseph Bong, a convicted felon and sex offender who knew Patty's daughter. A Dane County jury this month convicted Bong, now 28, on five felony counts in connection with Patty's rape. Woodmansee testified as a witness for the defense.

As for the matter of timing, Woodmansee's report says he contacted the district attorney's office on Oct. 10, 1997, to say he would be forwarding his file on the case. But a dated "case intake form" shows he did not actually do so until Oct. 24, the day after he received Patty's letter to Riley.

District Attorney Brian Blanchard says his office's file on the case does not contain "any phone slips, memos, or notes...reflecting contact between anyone in this office and anyone in the police department before intake was delivered here," although such records would not necessarily have been created.

Woodmansee is in England and unavailable for comment. Even if he had spoken to someone in the office earlier, as his report indicates, his failure to include Patty's letter complaining about his conduct is more glaring if the file was forwarded after this document was in his possession.

At the PFC hearing, Riley said he meant for Woodmansee to give this letter to the DA's office; Woodmandsee claimed he misunderstood.

Mike Short, the attorney who represented Patty in her failed federal lawsuit, says he'd "be surprised if their were any consequences for Det. Woodmansee. I don't think the hierarchy in Madison Police Department has the desire to hold the officers accountable in this particular case."


2. From Woodmansee's testimony at the PFC hearing on Oct. 15, 1998

Relevant excerpt from Oct. 15, 1998, hearing before the Madison Police and Fire Commission

[This proceeding was initiated by Isthmus news editor Bill Lueders against Lt. Dennis George Riley of the Madison Police Department. At issue was Riley's conduct after he received two letters from Patty, a woman who alleged that Madison detectives under Riley's supervision used lies and threats in the course of getting her to recent her report that she was the victim of rape. The attorney, Paul Schwarzenbart, was hired by the city of Madison to defend Riley.]

RECROSS - EXAMINATION BY MR. SCHWARZENBART:

Q: Detective Woodmansee, I believe you testified that you had forwarded the matter to the District Attorney's office prior to the time that this letter was disclosed to you in late October 1997, is that correct?

A: That's correct.

Q: And when you forwarded the matter to the District Attorney's office what you did was you sent the DA's office a copy of the file as it existed at that point in time, is that correct?

A: That's correct.

Q: And so prior to this letter coming in or prior to you seeing the letter in late October of 1997, the report that you had done on your investigation would have already been in the hands of the DA's office, is that correct?

A: That's correct.


3. From a brief filed in May 2000 by attorneys representing Madison police in a federal lawsuit

[The following argument is from a brief filed May 15, 2000, by attorneys representing Madison Police Detectives Tom Woodmansee and Linda Draeger in a federal lawsuit filed by Patty, after the charges against her were dismissed. It was a brief in support of the defendant officers' motion for summary judgment. Federal Judge John Shabaz subsequently granted this motion, and dismissed the case. The following exchange appears on Pages 52 and 53. Patty is referred to in this pleading as "Doe."]

In this matter, there is no evidence other than Doe's speculation as to any animosity on the part of Detective Woodmansee towards Doe. In fact, the facts show that Detective Woodmansee was concerned that Doe might be emotionally upset or suicidal after her confession, and he took her to Dane County Mental Health for a mental health evaluation. As Defendants noted, under the applicable Seventh Circuit law, as stated in Rakovich v. Wade, 850 F.2d 1180, 1210 (7th Cir. 1987) (en banc), there must be a showing in a retaliatory prosecution claim that retaliation was the "decisive," "substantial or motivating factor" behind the prosecution. Id. at 1189-90. Doe does not even mention, much less discuss, Rakovich in her brief. The case is controlling Seventh Circuit precedent, and compels dismissal because there is no evidence that retaliation was the "decisive" factor behind Detective Woodmansee's decision to refer Doe f or prosecution to the Dane County District Attorney's Office.

In fact, there is no evidence that Detective Woodmansee's decision to refer Doe for prosecution was related in any way whatsoever to her letter to Woodmansee's supervisor dated October 17, 2000, as Doe suggests. [The date ascribed here is incorrect; "Doe" -- i.e. Patty -- had her letter delivered by cab on Oct. 23, 1997.] Doe acknowledges there is no dispute that on October 3, 1997, Detective Woodmansee informed Doe that intended to pursue prosecution of Doe for obstructing through the District Attorneys' Office.

See Defendants' Proposed Finding of Fact nos. 260-61. This was a full two weeks prior to Doe's October 17, 1997 letter. In addition, Defendants' proposed finding of fact no. 266 states that "On October 10, 1997, Woodmansee spoke with the District Attorney's Office and advised them that he would be forwarding his report to their office for charges of obstructing." [The District Attorney' Office's file has no record of this contact.] Doe provides no evidence whatsoever to contradict this finding; her only response is to state "objection hearsay" in her response to Defendants' finding of fact no. 266. However, this objection is irrelevant because the statements in this proposed finding are not being offered for their truth, but rather to show that Woodmansee had already decided, one week prior to Doe's letter to his supervisor, that Doe would be prosecuted for obstructing.

There is nothing in the record to contradict this fact, and thus there is nothing in the record to show that the prosecution was the result of Doe's letter. Accordingly, there is no evidence of any prosecution based on Doe's exercise of any free speech right in this matter. Furthermore, even if there was evidence of such a prosecution, it would be barred by the existence of probable cause and the doctrine of qualified immunity. As Defendants noted in their initial brief, under Rakovich, the facts of any case which purported[ly] demonstrate[s] a "clearly established" right against retaliatory prosecution must "closely correspond to the contested action before the defendant official is subject to liability."

[End of excerpt.]


4. The dated (upper left-hand corner) case intact form

Click here to view the document


5. Isthmus' letter to Det. Woodmansee, dated March 18, 2004

[This letter was sent via e-mail and regular mail. Woodmansee, it was later learned, was in England for two weeks and unavailable for comment.]

Detective Tom Woodmansee
Madison Police Department, West Precinct
1710 McKenna Blvd.
Madison, WI 53711

March 18, 2004

Detective Woodmansee,

I am writing to ask for your perspective regarding an admittedly small aspect of your investigation into the sexual assault complaint reported on Sept. 4, 1997 by Patricia XXXXX. At the Police and Fire Commission hearing in late 1998, it was testified to and not disputed that Ms. XXXXX's letter to Det. Dennis George Riley, addressed "Dear Supervisor," and her accompanying letter to the Wisconsin State Journal, dated Oct. 22, were received by Riley on October 23, 1997, the day after an article about her recantation appeared in the State Journal. It was also established that Riley gave the letter to you and you discussed it with him on the afternoon of the day it was received.

You were asked under oath at the PFC hearing why you did not promptly provide these letters to the District Attorney's Office. You testified that by this time you had already forwarded your case file and report to the DA's office. This is the relevant section:

RECROSS - EXAMINATION BY MR. SCHWARZENBART:

Detective Woodmansee, I believe you testified that you had forwarded the matter to the District Attorney's office prior to the time that this letter was disclosed to you in late October 1997, is that correct?

A: That's correct.

Q: And when you forwarded the matter to the District Attorney's office what you did was you sent the DA's office a copy of the file as it existed at that point in time, is that correct?

A: That's correct.

Q: And so prior to this letter coming in or prior to you seeing the letter in late October of 1997, the report that you had done on your investigation would have already been in the hands of the DA's office, is that correct?

A: That's correct.

In the postal mail version of this letter, I will provide you with this portion of the hearing transcript.

I ask about these matters because I have learned that you actually sent your case file and report to the District Attorney's Office on October 24, 1997, the day after you received and discussed the letters from Patricia XXXXX. This is clearly indicated on the Case Intake Form, dated 10-24-97. You testified at your deposition in the civil case that the date on the intake form would have been the date you forwarded your report.

I have two questions: The first is whether you can provide me with any information or explanation regarding these events. To some, this chronology may suggest your decision to seek criminal charges was retaliatory in intent, since it follows so closely on the heels of your discovery that Ms. XXXXX had sent these letters to your boss. The other question is why these letters were not provided to the DA's office with your other material, since they were evidently in your possession before the other materials were sent.

My number at Isthmus is 251-5627. My e-mail address is blueders@isthmus.com. I am hoping to hear from you by the end of the day Monday, March 22. Thank you in advance for any information or perspective that you are able to provide. I am providing a copy of this communication to Deputy District Attorney Judy Schwaemle, in case she is able to shed light on these matters.

Sincerely,
[signed]
Bill Lueders
News Editor

Judy Schwaemle, Deputy District Attorney

[End of document.]

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