A local disabled veteran who was the focus of much sympathy and donations in 2016 was likely abused and neglected, and his wife has been removed as his legal guardian, according to court documents.

Janesville police are investigating the case and will refer their reports to the district attorney’s office for possible criminal charges against the veteran’s wife and caregiver, said Lt. Terry Sheridan of the police department.

Francis Hatch, 50, suffered a brain injury in 2012, resulting in a need for 24-hour care. He is bedridden and nonverbal, according to a petition for a temporary restraining order filed by the Rock County Human Services Department in Rock County Court.

The order, filed last month, asked to separate Francis from his wife, Deanna R. Hatch, 47, of 717 Tudor Drive, Janesville, to protect him and to avoid interference in an investigation of an at-risk person.

The Gazette in 2016 published articles about Francis’ condition, resulting in a flood of contributions.

The petition says Hatch was taken to Mercyhealth Hospital and Trauma Center on Dec. 4, and indications were he had suffered physical abuse and neglect.

A Janesville police report indicates Francis was emaciated, had “skin break down,” another term for bed sores, and a wound on his leg that did not appear accidental.

Hatch had a series of blisters from his ankle to his knee, and his blood was drug-free, even though he was supposed to be medicated daily, according to the petition.

The drugs he had been prescribed included painkillers methadone and hydrocodone and a tranquilizer, benzodiazepine, according to the petition.

Deanna was Francis’ caretaker and legal guardian, according to the petition.

“Mr. Hatch lives at home with his wife and is completely dependent on her for his care. A foreclosure action on their home was filed with the court on July 26, 2017,” according to the petition.

“The Veterans Administration reports that it has been difficult to maintain unskilled help in the home to assist Mrs. Hatch with the daily care of Mr. Hatch,” the petition states. “Mrs. Hatch reportedly has a history of firing staff and being difficult to work with in order to provide services to Mr. Hatch.”

Judge Barbara McCrory on Dec. 13 modified the restraining order to allow Deanna Hatch to have a daily one-hour visit with her husband, supervised by Rock County Human Services, a court document indicates.

At a Dec. 20 court hearing, Judge Barbara McCrory dismissed the restraining order after hearing that a new guardian of Francis Hatch’s estate was being appointed.

Deanna Hatch’s attorney, Jack Hoag, told the court that Deanna believed the change in guardianship was in Francis’ best interest and that she willingly stepped down as guardian, according to a court document.

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