Agent ousted in child porn delays reaches deal

Scales of justice
Scales of justice

MADISON (AP) – A former Wisconsin Department of Justice supervisor who was fired for letting dozens of online child pornography cases to languish reached a settlement with the state Wednesday that calls for Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to apologize to him.

DOJ officials fired Milwaukee Special Agent-in-Charge Willie Brantley in March. Brantley appealed the termination to the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, alleging he was fired in part because he’s black, that the agency was well aware of a backlog in child pornography investigations before he was fired and that no one set up timelines for assigning the cases. He also contended the agency lacks the resources to investigate every tip as it comes in.

Brantley’s settlement with DOJ calls for the state to pay him $7,500 to cover his attorney fees and change his termination to a retirement. It also requires DOJ to craft a statement from Van Hollen apologizing to Brantley for referring to him as a rogue agent in media interviews.

The settlement includes a copy of the statement, in which Van Hollen says Brantley has served with distinction in DOJ for 13 years and was highly respected.

“Attorney General Van Hollen regrets characterizing Mr. Brantley as a ‘rogue agent’ while giving an interview immediately after his discharge,” the statement said.

Brantley agreed to drop his termination case and to never sue the state over claims arising from his employment.

An internal investigation found Brantley held 43 cases longer than 120 days before assigning them between 2011 and 2013, according to his termination letter. He held some cases for years and others were never assigned, the letter said. The delays allowed one suspect to sexually assault a child.

Another Milwaukee agent, Anna King, left the agency in March over the delays. DOJ officials haven’t said whether she resigned or was fired.

DOJ spokeswoman Dana Brueck didn’t immediately return a voicemail message on Wednesday.

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