La Crosse Co. Criminal Justice Council member cited for solicitation of a prostitute

Keonte Turner5 21

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)-  La Crosse County Criminal Justice Management Council member and community activist Keonte Turner was cited and released May 10th for solicitation of a prostitute.

News 8 Now received the police report and it’s the result of a lengthy investigation that dates back to January.

Turner is a current member of the La Crosse Co. Criminal Justice Management Council, a former La Crosse School board member, a former candidate for La Crosse City Council, and a current employee of the La Crosse Area Family YMCA.

The YMCA released a statement to News 8 Now Friday night:

We were deeply saddened and disappointed to learn that Keonte Turner, one of our employees, is the subject of an investigation by the La Crosse Police Department and the Wisconsin Department of Justice.  As soon as we learned of the investigation relating to Mr. Turner, he was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. At this time, the investigation does not allege any misconduct or inappropriate activity on Y property. The YMCA will fully cooperate if contacted by law enforcement in the course of its investigation of this matter. At the La Crosse Area Family YMCA, the safety and well-being of members, participants, staff, and volunteers have been and always will be a top priority. We have a series of safety measures in place. Specifically, the La Crosse Area Family YMCA:
·         conducts National Sex Offender Registry checks;
·         conducts State & County Criminal Record Checks through the Wisconsin Department of Justice
·         conducts interviews and work history checks prior to hiring;
·         conducts reference checks for all applicants;
·         conducts screenings of all members against the National Sex Offender Registry and terminates all memberships that return positive.

Pre-employment checks conducted on Mr. Turner gave no cause for concern in his background, nor has he had any disciplinary issues during his tenure with our Y.

La Crosse County Board Chair and CJMC member Monica Kruse said nothing like this has happened before so she isn’t clear on what the protocol would be for Turner’s position on the committee. But Kruse did say this legal situation would have to work its way through the court system.

Keonte Turner is expected to appear in court on June 9th.

His attorney, Christopher Zachar, released the following statement:

Mr. Turner is a respected public servant who continues to do good work in our community. He denied the allegations when interviewed by police, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence.  An independent prosecutor has already reviewed the relevant reports, and determined that no criminal charges will be filed against Mr. Turner.

More troubling is the fact that members of the La Crosse Police Department approached the media with allegations that it knew would not be criminally charged, with the sole apparent goal was to damage the reputation of a public figure who had been critical of department practices and policies. Public confidence in law enforcement has diminished significantly in recent years, and releasing details of an unrelated, and ongoing, fraud investigation to damage a critic does not help to rehabilitate public trust in this department.