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DA says it takes murder for abuse/assault cases to get attention



DA’s office handled 5,200
new criminal cases in 2015

The city of La Crosse has just had its first murder in many months, apparently the result of domestic violence. 

La Crosse’s district attorney says domestic abuse and sexual assault cases may not get much attention unless they involve murder. 

According to District Attorney Tim Gruenke, however, those crimes often make up the largest number of cases that get to court in a year and can be more harmful to a community than drugs.

“The amount of damage that does to a community is equal, if not greater than the drugs,” said Gruenke, who gave his annual report to the county judiciary committee Tuesday. “If you look at the people doing drugs, most of the women who are using drugs, if you look at their history, probably have some kind of sexual sssualt or domestic abuse in their background. And, if you look at even the men using drugs, you look at their family life growing up, and see the same thing.”

Gruenke also mentioned having experienced prosecutors that can try assault and domestic abuse cases. But, he pointed out, that a steady turnover of attorneys in the DA’s office hurts the efforts to deal with domestic crimes.

His office has been shorthanded for years because of that turnover. Prosecutors, however, are hired by the state, and Gruenke doesn’t expect the state to expand the number of assistants he’ll get.

“We ask every time but there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, unless the light is a train in the tunnel,” Gruenke joked.

The DA’s office handled 5,200 new criminal cases in 2015 — more than 500 above the previous year.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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