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No One Responsible for Rape by State
September 24, 2014 permalink
In an extraordinary incident in Wisconsin social worker Peter J Nelsen forced himself sexually on mother Theola Nealy with the threat of removing her children. When she got pregnant, the state took her two children into care, and they have not been returned. When Nealy gave birth to Nelsen's daughter Melina, that girl was taken and placed with Nelsen. Nealy sued Nelsen and the state of Wisconsin for damages. The state of Wisconsin opposed the suit. But Nelsen, who has switched careers and is now a janitor without assets, put up no defense. A jury has ruled that the taxpayers of the state of Wisconsin are not financially responsible for damages to Nealy but assessed $1.5 million against Nelsen. In the end Theola Nealy was raped with the power of the state and there are no meaningful consequences for anyone.
Woman impregnated by her social worker gets $1.5 million in damages
A federal jury ruled Wednesday that the state of Wisconsin is not financially liable for a Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare social worker who impregnated an emotionally troubled woman he had investigated for child maltreatment.
However, the jury awarded Theola Nealy $500,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages. The defendant, Peter Nelsen, is responsible for the entire amount but the state is not financially liable for his behavior.
Nealy had sought $15 million in damages.
Nelsen has admitted that he was assigned by the bureau in July 2007 to investigate an allegation that Nealy had abused or neglected her two young children. The former social worker now works as a janitor and has few resources.
Nelsen has admitted he had sex with her several times in the fall of that year. Nealy testified on Tuesday that she did not want to have sex with Nelsen but did so because she was afraid he would place her children in foster care.
Nealy discovered she was pregnant in November 2007. She testified that Nelsen threatened to remove her two children if she did not have an abortion. Nelsen denied he made such a threat.
Nealy refused to have an abortion, and the bureau removed both children. They have never been returned.
Nealy gave birth to a daughter on Aug. 19, 2008. Nelsen controlled her contact with the child. Nealy testified on Tuesday that she was afraid she would lose custody of the child if she told anyone what had happened.
In the spring of 2009, Nealy told both a bureau caseworker and a W-2 worker about Nelsen. The W-2 worker, not the bureau caseworker, told bureau officials about Nelsen.
Rather than fire Nelsen, the bureau accepted his letter of resignation on April 2009. Nelsen's resignation was treated as a termination and he was denied unemployment benefits.
Nelsen retained placement of the baby and was eventually awarded full custody of the child.
Nealy's attorney, Joy Bertrand, argued that Nelsen used his position with the bureau to manipulate Nealy into having sex with him and to gain access to their daughter. He did these things, she argued, within the scope of his employment, making the state liable for damages.
But Monica A. Burkert-Brist, an assistant attorney general, argued that Nelsen's abuse of Nealy was well out of his scope of employment. Though despicable, he and he alone was responsible for damages.
Source: Journal Sentinel
A later edit corrected the award to $1.05 million.