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WI Supreme Court candidate jailed man 2 years for raping veteran, said ‘part of me’ wanted to give probation
March 29 2023, 08:00

FIRST ON FOX: Janet Protasiewicz, a Wisconsin judge running for a seat on the state’s Supreme Court, has a long history of giving light sentences to sex criminals, including a man she imprisoned for just over two years after brutally raping a military veteran in 2019.

Robert Guzinski, 42, was accused of pushing a military veteran down onto the icy hood of a vehicle and vaginally and anally raping her in a bar alleyway in January 2019. The victim told the court she suffered from physical injuries, nightmares and crippling anxiety from the attack, which resulted in months of therapy and a mental health-related hospitalization.

"Is probation appropriate for you, given the fact that you have so many pro-social characteristics?" Protasiewicz said to Guzinski during the sentencing, according to the court transcript. "And I weigh that very, very carefully. It's not an easy call, Mr. Guzinski."

"As much as part of me would like to place you on probation, I just can’t do that," the judge said at the time. "It’s not a probationary case."

Guzinski pled guilty to third-degree sexual assault, for which he faced a maximum 10 years in prison, but Protasiewicz gave him 2.5 years in prison, with credit for 52 days already served, followed by 2.5 years of probation.


In March 2019, John Spivey, then 51, was accused of repeatedly punching his 79-year-old aunt in the face, suffocating her with a pillow until she passed out, and raping her in her apartment. He was found guilty of incest and aggravated battery of an elderly victim.

During his sentencing, Protasiewicz praised Spivey for taking "some responsibility" for pleading guilty on those two charges, but added she had "concerns" about his character.

Spivey had an extensive criminal history prior to the sentencing, including at least three past incarcerations for felony firearm possession, resisting an officer and driving a vehicle without consent.

Spivey faced a maximum 25 years in prison for the crime, but Protasiewicz gave him a total of five years in prison for both charges, with credit for 1.5 years already served, followed by five years of probation. A charge of strangulation and suffocation that had been dismissed was read-in during the sentencing, but Protasiewicz said she would only sentence Spivey for what he "pled guilty to, the incest and the aggravated battery," according to the transcript.

In March 2019, 38-year-old Nicholas Grzybowski was accused of sexually assaulting his 13-year-old niece while she slept. The victim said she was sleeping on her uncle’s couch when she woke up to him touching her buttocks while he was nude, and that he told her to take off her clothes and propositioned her for further sexual contact, according to the court transcript.

Prosecutors sought three to five years in prison followed by seven years of probation, but Protasiewicz handed down three years in prison for child enticement, with credit for 65 days already served, followed by five months of probation.

Protasiewicz, a judge for the Milwaukee County Circuit Court in Wisconsin, will face off against Dan Kelly, a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, next Tuesday, but Wisconsin voters have already been casting ballots since March 21. While the race is technically non-partisan, Kelly was endorsed by former President Trump in 2020, and Protasiewicz received the endorsement of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week.

The winner will determine majority control of the court, with the fate of abortion access, legislative redistricting, voting rights, rules for elections and other major issues at stake. 

Fox News Digital reported Monday that Protasiewicz previously suspended the prison sentence of a convicted domestic abuser before he went on to kill two people in January 2019.

In January 2016, Protasiewicz suspended Matthew Neumann’s 18-month prison term and placed him on probation for two years after he pled guilty to endangering safety with a gun while intoxicated and disorderly conduct, both with a domestic abuse modifier. He also had a long criminal history prior to the killings, including past convictions for drunken driving and stolen property.

Four years after Protasiewicz’s sentencing, in February 2020, Neumann was found guilty of killing two of his cleaning company employees and burning their bodies on a hunting property he was leasing in East Troy. He was sentenced to 72 years in prison.

Protasiewicz has faced Republican criticism this election for her sentencing practices for sex criminals, sparking the nickname "No Jail Janet" on social media.

Kelly criticized Protasiewicz for "weak-on-crime sentencing" during their first and only debate last Tuesday, citing her sentencing of 23-year-old Jovian Reese, who was convicted of sexually assaulting his cousin in 2018. While Reese faced a maximum sentence of 10 years, Protasiewicz gave him 14 months in prison, the Daily Mail reported.

Protasiewicz defended her record and said the case had been "cherry-picked." When asked in February whether she would have ruled any differently on any past cases, she said no. 

"Every single case is unique," she said. "Integrity is one of my hallmarks. Absolute integrity. I looked at what I looked at in each one of those unique cases and made a decision that I thought was appropriate."

Protasiewicz’s campaign did not respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment.