MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ pick to head a state agency that licenses construction workers and other professionals was charged with felony child abuse in 2005 after jabbing her 5-year-old son’s hand with a pen, causing it to bleed.
The case against Dawn Crim was eventually dismissed, and the charges were never proved in court. Crim instead was able to arrange and meet the terms of a deferred-prosecution agreement. A criminal complaint alleged she poked her son’s hand several times after learning from a teacher’s note that he had poked a fellow student’s hand with a pencil.
Republicans deciding whether to approve Crim to head the Department of Safety and Professional Services are raising concerns, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and the chairman of the Senate committee overseeing Crim’s confirmation are questioning her fitness for the role.
“These new revelations are deeply unsettling and will almost assuredly raise questions from members of my caucus surrounding the secretary’s ability to serve in that role,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “The governor should immediately make clear whether or not he was aware of this information when he sent the Senate this nomination.”
Crim, a former assistant coach for the University of Wisconsin women’s basketball team, told the Wisconsin State Journal that the incident was “the most difficult and trying experience of my life.”
“No mother wants to be accused of hurting her child,” Crim said in a statement. “Despite this unfortunate event from 14 years ago, I have a strong, caring relationship with my son. That relationship — and my long record of involvement in the community — define who I am. I am confident that I will be able to provide strong, effective leadership to the agency.”
Crim previously served under Evers as assistant state superintendent for the Division of Student and School Success.
Evers praised Crim in a statement.
“I have always known Dawn to be a thoughtful, caring person, both in her personal and professional life,” Evers said. “She was a valued member of the team at the Department of Public Instruction and has already provided excellent leadership at DSPS.”
The Committee on Public Benefits, Licensing and State-Federal Relations has scheduled a hearing for Crim’s confirmation for March 13.
The chairman of the committee, the Republican senator Chris Kapenga, said in a statement that the alleged incident raises concerns about both Crim and Evers. If endorsed by the committee, Crim would have to be confirmed by the state Senate, where Republicans have a 19-14 majority.