By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Why was liberal Dane County Sheriff Kalvin Barrett seen partying with a registered child sex offender wanted by local and federal law enforcement officials?
That’s what Barrett’s Republican challenger, Detective Anthony Hamilton, wants to know.
Hamilton says Barrett owes the public and particularly sexual assault victims an apology.
“Sheriff Barrett’s actions are a slap in the face to every law enforcement officer and victim of sexual assault in Dane County,” Hamilton said. “Who you hang out with with says a lot about your values.”
Who the sheriff was hanging out with is John Brown, 56, a felon convicted of 2nd-degree sexual assault of a juvenile.
In photos posted on Facebook in June, Brown appears with Barrett at a backyard campaign event. The sheriff has since scrubbed the photos from his Facebook page, but Brown’s page proudly included them.
“A back yard party that brings out nothing but the best in us. Communities that care! For we are the people! Neighbors helping neighbors! ”Brown declares on his page. “2022! Kalvin Barrett for Dane County Sheriff.” In one photo, he’s seen holding a blue Barrett for sheriff shirt, standing and smiling with the sheriff.
“Community Accountability and Justice. Together! Yes We Can!” Brown writes, picking up on Barrett’s campaign slogan.
The sheriff, appointed by Gov. Tony Evers to fill the term of long-time Democrat Sheriff Dave Mahoney who retired last year, welcomed Brown to the event while there was an active warrant for the sex offender’s arrest. Hamilton said the sheriff’s own deputies were searching for Brown in a joint law enforcement action with the FBI and the U.S. Marshal’s Service office.
In the “gang sweep” on June 13, Brown was taken into custody — just days after Barrett’s backyard soiree, according to police reports. Brown told law enforcement he knew he had an active sex offender registry warrant in Dane County, Hamilton said.
More troubling, that same day the sheriff called the Department of Corrections Sex Offender Registry Regional supervisor, Hamilton claims. Barrett asked the program supervisor if he was going to pursue the criminal sex offender registry violation charges, according to Hamilton. The supervisor could not be reached for comment.
“That officer, who is responsible for charging the crime, said, ‘Yes,” Detective Hamilton, who is the department liaison officer to the DOC office, told Empower Wisconsin. “That day or the next (Barrett) wiped his campaign page of the photos but the convicted pedophile still had them on his Facebook page.”
Hamilton said the Dane County deputies were monitoring Brown’s Facebook page to track his whereabouts.
The man Barrett was photographed partying with is facing multiple charges in Dane County:
- Resisting/Obstructing an Officer; two charges
- Misdemeanor Bail Jumping
- Felony Bail Jumping
- Disorderly Conduct
- Felony Sex Offender Registry Violation; two charges
Brown was 41 in 2007 when he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a juvenile (aged 12-15), according to court records. He has a long rap sheet. Hamilton said Brown was known to law enforcement for helping incite the Madison riots in 2020 that resulted in millions of dollars in damages as “Dane County law enforcement was told to stand down.”
Despite the charges against him and his history as a flight risk, bail was set at $250, which Brown posted on June 21, according to court records. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and plans to represent himself at a jury trial scheduled for late October.
Hamilton said he thinks there should be an investigation into whether Barrett used his position and influence to apply pressure on a law enforcement officer, particularly because the incident in question appeared to be at a campaign event.
Barrett, who was appointed by Evers in April 2021 and is facing Hamilton in November’s Dane County Sheriff election, did not return a call seeking comment. His campaign spokesman, Sachin Chheda, did not return an email from Empower Wisconsin, but he told the Wisconsin State Journal the sheriff “has his picture taken with dozens of people every week as he’s out and about in the community.”
“It’s clear that this particular individual tries really hard to get his picture taken with politicians all the time,” Chheda told the newspaper.
Brown, who identifies himself as Deacon John Brown, has stuffed his Facebook page with photos and videos — many of himself, and some with Dane County and state Democrats. There are several photos with Brown and state Rep. Sheila Stubbs (D-Madison), showing close ties to the lawmaker and her End Time Ministries.
Brown also appears in chummy photos with Evers, in which he praises the Democrat.
He’s been extremely active on Facebook since his arrest.
Hamilton said he’s not surprised that Barrett, who pushed the department policy demanding jail inmates be referred to as “residents,” would rub shoulders with a wanted pedophile at a campaign event. But he said the sheriff at the very least owes the public and sexual assault victims an apology.
“I really believe that type of behavior doesn’t represent the values of the Dane County Sheriff’s Office,” the detective said. “The voters need to decide this fall whether they want to elect a detective who has experience arresting rapists and pedophiles, or a political appointee who wants to hang out at backyard parties with pedophiles.”