Local woman feels betrayed after asking police for protection

A local woman said she asked for protection, but felt she ended up more at risk.

Alicia Mendoza feels she's been brushed off by Kenosha Joint Services after she reported one of their employees may have tipped off her ex-husband to a report she made.

"Nothing is done until something severe happens. There's a death, there's a missing person," said Mendoza, a survivor of domestic violence. She has done what she can to protect herself.

"There was domestic issues stemming back to 2009 that I reported," she said.

Mendoza successfully secured a four-year restraining order against her ex-husband, Justin Schmidt. She enforced it twice before.

"In 2015, in 2016, 2017 was the only year there hasn't been a violation," she recalled.

The latest violation occurred Spring 2018. Mendoza went to Kenosha Joint Services to file a report.

"I was hesitant just because I always worried about retaliation," she said.

Inside the station, Mendoza saw a familiar face.

"I'm here to file a report against my ex-husband, however one of the employees that is seated in the back is related- they're brother and sister," she remembered saying to the front desk. "When the officer arrived, I told him my concerns. He literally rolled his eyes and said she has nothing to do with this," she said.

Mendoza made her report. A warrant was issued for Schmidt's arrest. The next day she got a call.

"My ex's probation officer, wondering if I had let my ex know about the warrant," she said.

In an email during in the investigation, Schmidt's probation officer writes she got "a phone call... asking why there was a warrant out for his arrest and if he would be going into custody when he reported for his office visit."

Schmidt was taken into custody when he showed up for the meeting- two days after the warrant was issued.

He was taken into custody when he showed up for the meeting two days after the warrant was issued.

A Kenosha Joint Services disciplinary form against his sister, Amanda Massie, indicates Massie lied to her supervisor saying she never spoke with her brother.

But text messages from Schmidt's phone tell a different story. In one message he writes to his aunt saying "Amanda called me yesterday told me Alicia was there filing a report."

The Joint Services investigation states they couldn't prove Massie accessed any confidential information about Mendoza's report.

Even if she didn't share the information, it turns out several people knew of Mendoza.

According to the report from Joint Services, the investigator asked Schmidt who he knew in the department. In addition to his sister, he also listed a friend named Pablo, whose brother is the officer Mendoza filed her complaint with.

 "It's a violation of trust, it's a violation of confidentiality. I'm sure they have rules against that," Mendoza said.

Massie received a written warning for lying and violating a rule requiring competency, efficiency and using common sense.

"I don't understand how they can have an employee break confidentiality, endanger safety, not just mine, but anybody else who might be put in this situation and allow that person to continue to be employed there," she wondered.

Mendoza couldn't get answers from the people in charge, so the I-Team went to talk to Joint Services Director Tom Gunthner. Reporter Casey Geraldo asked why people should feel comfortable going to Joint Services after what happened to Mendoza. 

"I'm not sure what you're talking about," Gunthner said.

But, the I-Team was there two months earlier as Gunthner sat next to Mendoza, who went to a board meeting to share her concerns.

"I don't feel the proper resolution came through any of this," she said to the board while standing next to Gunthner.

The I-Team also spoke to Gunthner on the phone several times. He himself fulfilled a records request about the investigation.

Gunthner never did talk to the I-team. Mendoza said she's still waiting on answers from the board. She said her ex-husband knew she was at Joint Services again twice in Summer 2018. 

Schmidt was never charged with a crime after Mendoza's report.

Mendoza said she hasn't had problems reporting issues to Kenosha Police in the past. She does encourage victims to report abuse.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you can call 800-799-7233 for help.

IF YOU NEED HELP:

Sojourner Family Peace Center has been designated the 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline for the City of Milwaukee and outlying communities since 1986.

MILWAUKEE RESOURCES:

Milwaukee Health Department

KENOSHA:

The mission of Women and Children's Horizons is to provide support, shelter, education, training and healing services to victims of sexual and domestic abuse, their families and the community.

STATEWIDE

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