Reality Check: Ad misleads on Jefferson County case
An ad in the race for state Supreme Court will no longer be running in Madison by Friday after concerns were raised about its content and the people involved.
A Jefferson County case is dramatized in the latest ad from Wisconsin Alliance for Reform, a conservative group that’s running ads against Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg.
“She told police about her father’s abuse,” the ad says. “When she was 6 he asked her to touch him. At age 10, he asked her to expose her breasts. And he was convicted of showing her a video of a sex act when she was 12.”
News 3 finds this is misleading.
A girl did report to Fort Atkinson police the acts described in the ad, but James Hunt was found not guilty by a jury of sexual assault of a child. He was found guilty of causing a child to view a sex act for showing a video to the young girl on his phone, and that’s where Hunt’s appeal came in.
“Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg voted to reverse his conviction on a technicality,” the ad says.
News 3 finds this needs clarification.
Hunt made the case to the state Court of Appeals that Jefferson County Judge Randy Koschnick should have allowed a witness to testify that he never sent Hunt the video the young girl said he saw. The judge didn’t allow it, saying how Hunt got the video was not relevant to the case.
The appeals court disagreed and said the testimony was relevant and said it could have affected the jury’s opinion of whether Hunt was credible. The three-judge panel ordered Hunt to have a new trial.
The state appealed that decision to the state Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court said Kloppenburg was wrong and upheld his conviction,” the ad says.
News 3 finds this also needs clarification. The Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, reversed the unanimous decision of all three appeals court judges, not just Kloppenburg. Justices in the majority agreed that the testimony was relevant and shouldn’t have been left out at trial. But they said they felt the jury would have convicted Hunt even without the error.
He spent time in jail, is a registered sex offender and is now on community monitoring.
Hunt’s family has been arguing that this ad is slanderous to him. Wisconsin Alliance for Reform announced that out of respect for the victims it will begin taking the ad off the air in the Madison and Milwaukee markets on Friday.