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Jury finds Beloit officials violated employees’ rights

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A federal jury has found that the former town of Beloit police chief and other officials violated two employees’ rights after they spoke out about the chief’s behavior and awarded the couple $1,495,000. Four more cases filed by current or former employees against the town are pending in federal court.

The report by the Janesville Gazette says a jury in Madison determined that former Police Chief John Wilson and six other officials retaliated against statements made by court clerk Mary Abegglen and her husband, former Sgt. Willis Abegglen.

According to court documents, Mary Abegglen’s hours were cut after she told Wilson she wouldn’t lie about his use of racial slurs in the workplace and answered an investigator’s questions about his language. Wilson has acknowledged using racially derogatory language in the workplace.

Willis Abegglen said he was demoted and subject to multiple internal investigations. He retired in February 2010 just before a disciplinary committee was to meet to discuss firing him.

Abegglens’ attorney, Bill Rettko, said the damages include lost wages, lost benefits and emotional pain and suffering.

Information from: The Janesville Gazette, http://www.gazetteextra.com

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