Some of Edgerton High School’s “freshmen” are quite a bit younger this year.
Six kindergarten classrooms are now housed at the high school because of ongoing construction that is part of the school district’s facilities referendum.
High school students are pitching in to help the new underclassmen through a program they call the Rascal Crew.
Around 20 students take turns sitting in the kindergarten hallway to help teachers and students however they can.
They walk kids to the office, nurse or bathroom, watch them at recess and interact with them. When the kids don’t need assistance, the upperclassmen work on their own homework.
One young student thought junior Clayton Jenny played for the Green Bay Packers because he was wearing his football jersey.
Jenny said a kindergartner pushed him because he saw Jenny do it on the football field.
“The relationships that you build with the kids and the connections you make is something I didn’t think would happen,” Jenny said.
He said the experience has taught him a few things, too.
“Just being able to talk to these kids and learn about the impact we really can have, it’s really inspiring,” Jenny said.
High school Principal Mark Coombs said the program has gone smoothly.
“They really help out the teachers with whatever they may need help with,” he said.
Alice Redalen, primary and 4K principal at Community Elementary School, said the initial plan called for teaching the kindergartners at a local church, but the high school eventually won that privilege.
“Everybody’s been rolling up their sleeves and opening the welcome mat for our students,” Redalen said. “The environment they’ve created has been so welcoming.”
Julie Lodahl supervises the Rascal Crew for the high school and helps with the kindergartners.
Other than getting a short introduction to their responsibilities, the high-schoolers haven’t needed much direction, she said.
“We kind of talked about a few basic rules right away, and they’ve just kind of taken it from there,” Lodahl said. “They’re awesome, and they’re not afraid to ask questions or ask for help.”
Lodahl said the Rascal Crew has been a big help.
“They’re just doing a great job. They’re not afraid to help out with kids, and we appreciate all they do.”
Rascal Crew member Ashley Kosmicki, who is a junior this year, said the effort has been rewarding.
“Just getting to know the kids and then later in the day they’ll run up to you. The relationships you build are just fun,” she said.
Some trips to the bathroom can get chaotic, but the experience is worth it, she said.
“They all talk to you. They want to play games with you. They just make me smile and laugh all the time.”
A former Beloit police officer was sentenced to prison Friday on charges that he sexually assaulted a Beloit girl more 100 times.
Larry J. Woods, 63, also had worked as a school security guard. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison followed by five years of supervision for the repeated sexual assault of the teen at multiple locations across the stateline area, including hotels in Beloit and Rockford, Illinois.
Woods still faces sentencing in federal court, where he pleaded guilty Aug. 7 to a charge of transporting a minor across state lines with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. For the federal charge, Woods faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison.
Rock County Assistant District Attorney Scott Dirks requested a 10-year prison sentence followed by 10 years supervised release. Defense attorney Francis Raff asked for five years prison and five years supervision.
As evidence that Woods has “refused to take responsibility” for his actions, Dirks pointed to Woods’ claim in the presentence investigation that he was drugged by the girl and doesn’t recall details of the assaults.
Raff said the impending federal sentence, Woods’ age and his lack of a prior criminal record warranted a lighter sentence.
Judge John Wood agreed with Dirks’ characterization, telling Woods his actions were “disgusting,” adding that Woods had “ruined a great number of lives” in preying on the young girl.
“By all accounts, you lived a stellar life and helped the community in many ways,” Wood said of Woods’ 25 years with the Beloit Police Department. “That is going to make this that much more shocking, and it shocks the conscience of our entire community.”
The former police officer most recently worked as a security guard at Aldrich Intermediate School in Beloit and at the Beloit Public Library before his arrest in June 2018.
The mother of the girl alerted law enforcement after finding cellphone videos showing Woods and her daughter in a state of undress. Through a forensic analysis of cellphone records, law enforcement uncovered 21 explicit videos linked to one of the victim’s social media accounts and inappropriate text messages between Woods and the girl.
In court Friday, Woods said he takes responsibility for his actions.
“I am very sorry for my actions regarding the charges,” Woods said. “I deeply apologize to the victim and her family in this case. I truly would pray that the victim can move on with her life to be a successful lady in her long life to come. I am also sorry that I brought shame to my wife and my family.”
As part of his sentence, Woods must register as a sex offender, receive sex offender treatment while incarcerated, and have no contact with the victim or her family members.
He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 6 in U.S. District Court in Madison.
Michael L. Bacon
Neil G. Pfeiffer
House Democrats took their first concrete steps in the impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump on Friday, issuing subpoenas demanding documents from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and scheduling legal depositions for other State Department officials.
At the end of a stormy week of revelation and recrimination, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi framed the impeachment inquiry as a somber moment for a divided nation.
“This is no cause for any joy,” she said on MSNBC.
At the White House, a senior administration official confirmed a key detail from the unidentified CIA whistleblower who has accused Trump of abusing the power of his office. Trump, for his part, insisted anew that his actions and words have been “perfect” and that the whistleblower’s complaint might well be the work of “a partisan operative.”
The White House acknowledged that a record of the Trump phone call that is now at the center of the impeachment inquiry had been sealed away in a highly classified system at the direction of Trump’s National Security Council lawyers.
Separately, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told reporters that the whistleblower “has protection under the law,” something Trump himself had appeared to question earlier in the day. He suggested then that his accuser “isn’t a whistleblower at all.”
Still at issue is why the rough transcript of Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president was put on “lock down,” in the words of the whistleblower. The CIA officer said that diverting the record in an unusual way was evidence that “White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired” in the conversation.
The whistleblower complaint alleges that Trump used his office to “solicit interference from a foreign country” to help himself in next year’s U.S. election. In the phone call, days after ordering a freeze to some military assistance for Ukraine, Trump prodded new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to dig for potentially damaging material on Democratic rival Joe Biden and volunteered the assistance of both his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and U.S. Attorney General William Barr.
Pelosi refused to set a deadline for the probe but promised to act “expeditiously.” The House intelligence committee could draw members back to Washington next week.
Pelosi said she was praying for the president, adding, “I would say to Democrats and Republicans: We have to put country before party.”
At the White House, it was a senior administration official who acknowledged that the summary of Trump’s conversation with Ukraine’s Zelenskiy had been moved to a highly classified system maintained by the National Security Council. The official was granted anonymity Friday to discuss sensitive matters.
White House attorneys had been made aware of concerns about Trump’s comments on the call even before the whistleblower sent his allegations to the intelligence community’s inspector general. Those allegations, made in mid-August, were released Thursday under heavy pressure from House Democrats.
All the while, Trump was keeping up his full-bore attack on the whistleblower and the unnamed “White House officials” cited in the complaint, drawing a warning from Pelosi against retaliation.
Late Thursday, Trump denounced people who might have talked to the whistleblower as “close to a spy” and suggested they engaged in treason, an act punishable by death. Then on Friday, he said the person was “sounding more and more like the so-called Whistleblower isn’t a Whistleblower at all.”
He also alleged without evidence that information in the complaint has been “proved to be so inaccurate.”
Pelosi told MSNBC, “I’m concerned about some of the president’s comments about the whistleblower.”
She said the House panels conducting the impeachment probe will make sure there’s no retaliation against people who provided information in the case. On Thursday, House Democratic chairmen called Trump’s comments “witness intimidation” and suggested efforts by him to interfere with the potential witness could be unlawful.
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, a member of the intelligence committee, said the president calling whistleblowers spies is “obscene ... just grotesque.”
“If you ask me, I’d like to hear from everybody that was mentioned in that whistleblower’s report. I’d like to hear from Rudy Giuliani, from the attorney general. I think Mike Pompeo has explaining to do as well as the State Department,” Castro said.
Trump’s Friday comment questioning the whistleblower’s status seemed to foreshadow a possible effort to argue that legal protection laws don’t apply to the person, opening a new front in the president’s defense, but Conway’s statement seemed to make that less likely.
The intelligence community’s inspector general found the whistleblower’s complaint “credible” despite finding indications of the person’s support for a different political candidate.
Legal experts said that by following proper procedures and filing a complaint with the government rather than disclosing the information to the media, the person is without question regarded as a whistleblower entitled to protections against being fired or criminally prosecuted.
“This person clearly followed the exact path he was supposed to follow,” said Debra D’Agostino, a lawyer who represents whistleblowers. “There is no basis for not calling this person a whistleblower.”
Lawyers say it also doesn’t matter for the purposes of being treated as a whistleblower if all the allegations are borne out as entirely true, or even if political motives or partisanship did factor into the decision to come forward.
Giuliani, already in the spotlight, was scheduled to appear at a Kremlin-backed conference in Armenia on Tuesday, but he said Friday he would not be attending. The agenda showed him speaking at a session on digital financial technologies. Russian President Vladimir Putin also was scheduled to participate in the conference.
Republicans were straining under the uncertainty of being swept up in the most serious test yet of their alliance with the Trump White House.
“We owe people to take it seriously,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a onetime Trump rival who is now a member of the intelligence committee.
“Right now, I have more questions than answers,” he said. “The complaint raises serious allegations, and we need to determine whether they’re credible or not.”
A swift resolution to the impeachment inquiry might not be easy. The intelligence committee is diving in just as lawmakers leave Washington for a two-week recess, with the panel expected to work while away.
One person familiar with the committee’s schedule said that members might return at the end of next week.
Findings will eventually need to be turned over to Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s Judiciary Committee, which is compiling the work of five other panels into what is expected to be articles of impeachment. The panel will need to find consensus.
Meanwhile, Trump’s reelection campaign took to accusing Democrats of trying to “steal” the 2020 election in a new ad airing in a $10 million television and digital buy next week.
The ad also attacks Democrat Biden, highlighting his efforts as vice president to make U.S. aid to Ukraine contingent on that country firing a prosecutor believed to be corrupt. The ad wrongly claims that the fired prosecutor was investigating the former vice president’s son.
In fact, the prosecutor had failed to pursue any major anti-corruption investigations, leaving Ukraine’s international donors deeply frustrated. In pressing for the prosecutor’s ouster, Biden was representing the official position of the U.S. government, which was shared by other Western allies and many in Ukraine.