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Superintendent of troubled Wisconsin youth prison resigns

GREG MOORE, Associated Press

The head of the state’s troubled youth prison is resigning after just a few months on the job, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections said earlier this week.

Lincoln Hills/Copper Lake superintendent Wayne Olson is stepping down for family reasons after being appointed in January, department spokesman Tristan Cook said.

The youth facilities for boys and girls, which share a campus in northern Wisconsin, are being investigated over allegations of abuse and claims that range from sexual assault to misconduct in public office. The inquiry became public in December when state officials raided the campus.

The FBI has taken over the investigation and has said it can’t comment. The state Justice Department also has said it’s unable to comment because of an ongoing John Doe investigation, which allows prosecutors to order testimony, obtain search warrants and collect evidence in secret. That inquiry was launched in October.

The investigations have led to an administrative shake-up and several staffers being placed on administrative leave. Former Corrections Secretary Ed Wall resigned in February. He didn’t mention the probe in his resignation statement, but said it was time to “step aside to allow a new person with fresh perspectives to lead the agency forward.”

Newly appointed Department of Corrections Secretary Jon Litscher said in a statement that under Olson’s guidance Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake have “implemented a number of substantial reforms that further DOC’s commitment to the safety and security of youth in DOC custody.”

Lincoln Hills/Copper Lake Deputy Superintendent Wendy Peterson will take over for Olson, Litscher’s statement said.

Olson, who will become superintendent at Thompson Correctional Center, wasn’t available for comment, Cook said.

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