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Former Mayo pediatrician from La Crosse gets prison sentence for sexual assaults on children



Audience at former Mayo Clinic Health System doctor, Joe Poterucha, sentencing on July 31, 2023 (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

A former La Crosse pediatrician was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for sexually assaulting children under the age of 13.


A few dozen attended the sentencing wearing matching blue t-shirts and sexual assault awareness ribbons in support of the victims.

The former chief of pediatrics at Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse was also ordered to serve 14 years on supervision.

Five of the victims addressed the court before the sentencing, calling Poterucha manipulative and dangerous.

“Joe is a pedophile and a rapist, even if he won’t say it,” one victim told the court. “Joe put a life sentence on us, and we did nothing wrong. He deserves the same life sentence.”

His wife also spoke.

“I’m sure he doesn’t believe he deserves to be sentenced like a pedophile, a rapist and an abuser,” Poterucha’s wife, Katie, said in court. “Joe is not the priority. He’s insignificant. He’s a failure to his family, his profession and his community.”

Another child told the court, “I still feel like he is still being there watching me. He’s done so many bad things for so many years.”

Judge Todd Bjerke said under the sentence, Poterucha is not allowed to have contact with anyone under 18, no contact with the victims, no internet. He will also go on state’s lifetime sex offender list.

“My biggest regret was committing this crime and the pain that I brought upon the victims — people I really loved and cared about. They trusted me to keep them safe,” Poterucha said in court.

Charges were filed against the physician two years ago. Poterucha had been scheduled to go on trial this summer. Instead, he reached a plea agreement back in May.

La Crosse Judge Todd Bjerke sentences former Mayo Clinic Health System La Crosse doctor, Joseph Poterucha, for sexual assault of children on July 31, 2023 (PHOTO: Brad Williams).

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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