County behavioral health chief: sexual assault a “trade-off”

During a closed-door session with County Supervisors last month, John Chianelli, appointed by Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker to serve as administrator of Milwaukee County’s Behavioral Health Division, defended his decision to intentionally house female patients with men known to be dangerous at Milwaukee County’s Mental Health Complex, citing his belief that “the presence of women reduces the likelihood of the men being violent.” Chianelli went on to assert that keeping male and female patients segregated would result in more violence:

“It’s a trade-off,” he said. “Putting 24 aggressive male patients into a male-only unit would increase the level of violence in the unit.”

The fact that John Chianelli believes the sexual assault of female patients is a “trade-off” necessary to reduce violence among male patients is simply mind-boggling, not to mention disturbing, and the fact that Scott Walker appointed Chianelli to serve in a position of great importance speaks volumes about the kind of “chief executive” Scott Walker would be as governor.

If Scott Walker can’t be counted on to choose capable, competent administrators to serve in Milwaukee County government, then how can anyone expect he’ll do a better job if he’s elected to serve as governor?


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16 thoughts on “County behavioral health chief: sexual assault a “trade-off”

  1. This story has me so mad I think I could spit nails right now. I probably shouldn’t even comment on it considering how angry I am…but I can’t help myself. I am not shocked one bit this man (Walker’s man) thinks women are second class to men and uses them as a way to control the violent men at MHC. The very idea he thinks a woman being sexually assaulted is a good and acceptable “trade-off” to keep most of the violent men under control is beyond despicable. I personally think it is criminal. I think the only way these kind of men (Chianelli and Walker) would ever get a clue is if someone locked them up with these violent men and they were raped like the women were at the MHC. The republican/conservatives’ silence on this matter is deafening…and that’s because getting Walker in as the next governor is more important than these women who were allowed to be raped as a “trade-off”. All they care about is power, control, and money. Such sick people.

    1. Thank you Anon for your comments….I was so angry when I first read this post I had to walk away..but then found myself seething in my head for the next two hours.

      There are many issues brought to light in this post, but the most appalling is the assertion that it is appropriate to use mentally ill women as a treatment plan for violent men! Many of these women have had trauma in their lives; i.e. violence. They are supposed to be treated in a safe environment by Milwaukee Health Services, not be used to control men’s behavior!

      Women are not a line-item treatment plan for those who just are looking to cut expenses by not providing appropriate housing, mental health staffing and treatment for violent patients.

        1. Zach, what source are you citing with this story? The quote you give says
          “the presence of women reduces the likelihood of the men being violent.” The way you wrote this post seems to indicate that you are inferring that means an acceptance of sexual assault. I thought maybe the full article expands on what is meant and what’s going on here.

            1. Thanks for providing the full story. It helped clear up some of my confusion. The acceptance or choosing one bad thing for another is unacceptable. I know we are talking about mental health facilities here, but it brings to mind that no one makes it a priority to reduce or prevent prison rape and violence. In fact it’s often lightly joked about. Sorry just an aside there that is also bothersome.

              1. Sorry for the confusion regarding the link to the original story.

                As to what you said, you’re exactly right that this isn’t as big a priority as it should be. While folks who are confined (either in prison or a secure mental health facility) are confined for a reason, that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be as safe as possible once they’re confined.

          1. At best it means they are being used as decorative sex objects for the men.

            1. I do agree though that despite the seriousness of the decision I doubt this guy intended sexual assault. It’s still demeaning and messed up logic he used to come to this decision though.

              Now I’m sure I disagree with Walker on many things but could have have known this guy was going to act like this? I’d judge him on this incident now based on how he deals with this. I wouldn’t vote for him anyway since I disagree too much in general with many Republican values, but I know that Scott Walker isn’t the person who made this weird decision.

              1. Granted Scott Walker is not the person who made this policy decision or statement, but Scott Walker is also not the person stating that this is a reprehensible practice and a deplorable attitude to have toward women for which whose safety the County is responsible. Scott Walker is also not the person stating that Chianelli will be disciplined or fired for this policy towards mentally ill women.

                Instead Walker cronies are out there stating that this is just another attack at Walker because he is for running for Governor.

                ““Clearly this is a calculated effort being waged against Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker to derail his gubernatorial run,” wailed Sen. Mary Lazich, while Sen. Alberta Darling called it a “political stunt” in a press release sent out by the Walker campaign to trivialize the issue.”


  2. I cannot believe any woman would say those things. Are they insane? Perhaps they (Lazich and Darling) would have been happier if this never came to light and the vulnerable women would have continued to be RAPED by the violent men? Heaven forbid real life…real suffering…and the raping of mentally ill women by violent men interfere with Scott Walker’s campaign. Un-freaking-real.

  3. From the Journal Sentinel Editorial Board May 12:
    “Supervisor Patricia Jursik, who was at a meeting with Chianelli last month and emphasizes that the complex does have problems, disagrees with the other supervisors’ reporting of his remarks. She told us that Chianelli’s comments were taken out of context and juxtaposed in a way to change his meaning and to hurt his reputation.”

    This story is based on hearsay from a politician (who will be running for re-election in the fall), reporting her recollection of what was said 6 weeks earlier at a closed meeting, violating not only the confidentialy of the meeting, but also the reputation of this poor man who apparantly is prohibited from commenting. Despicable.

    1. Here is the link to the full JS Editorial Board Article:

      MJS Editorial Board is advocating for a full investigation of the MHC and Chianelli. They are not “dog piling on” to the demands of termination, but are asking Walker to comply with an audit to verify that the MHC is being administered properly. MJS is also advocating for a full investigation of the “closed door meeting comments.” If any of the claims are verified MJS also advocates for Walker to take action.

      And as for confidentiality of the meeting…..if there is a policy that puts people (i.e. mentally ill women) in harm’s way…..I for one want my elected officials to BLOW THE DOORS OFF! In order, to stop thess types of dangerous policies from continuing.

      The only thing that is despicable here is that this whole situation has become politicized and made about the upcoming Gubernatorial election and NOT about the safety of the Mental Health patients (men & women) that Milwaukee County is responsible.

      And just to clarify….there are no Milw Co Supervisors running for re-election until 2012. Except for the Dist 2 Special Election on May 25 to replace Toni Clark.

      Link to excel spreadsheet showing upcoming elections thru 2015 – Or Link to City of Milw Election Commission

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