Eau Claire pediatrician David Van de Loo will be allowed to leave Wisconsin for his three-week criminal jury trial in Superior in January and February.
Van de Loo’s attorney, Rich White of Eau Claire, made the request Tuesday so Van de Loo could stay in Duluth, Minn., during the trial.
There are more accommodations available in Duluth than in Superior, and staying in Minnesota would decrease the likelihood of Van de Loo and prosecution witnesses staying at the same hotel, White said.
Eau Claire County Judge Michael Schumacher modified Van de Loo’s $50,000 cash bail to allow him to leave the state during his trial.
Van de Loo, 60, 3805 Patton St., has pleaded not guilty to 17 felony charges. He is accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with 16 former male patients.
Van de Loo’s trial will be in Superior because Schumacher granted his motion for a change of venue, ruling a reasonable likelihood existed that a fair trial couldn’t be held in Eau Claire County.
Schumacher cited media coverage and Van de Loo’s prominent status in the Eau Claire area as factors leading to changing the location of the trial.
Schumacher scheduled Tuesday’s hearing with White and Eau Claire County District Attorney Gary King to address Van de Loo’s bail condition and other pretrial issues.
King said a plan should be put in place in case inclement weather prohibits witnesses from getting to the Douglas County Courthouse.
“Witnesses may or may not be able to get to that location,” he said.
Schumacher said weather is unpredictable in the dead of winter and he will deal with that issue if it arises.
“I don’t know we can plan around Mother Nature whether the trial’s in Superior, Eau Claire, La Crosse or anywhere else,” he said.
Jury questionnaires are often used by judges in high-profile criminal cases.
Schumacher said he would like to send such questionnaires to at least 200 prospective Douglas County jurors to eliminate those with obvious conflicts to ease the jury selection process when Van de Loo’s trial begins.
White, who has experience dealing with jury questionnaires as Eau Claire County’s former district attorney, said cases like this should involve 150 to 300 questionnaires.
“The goal should be to narrow the jury pool to no less than 70 to 75 people to come in on the first day of trial,” he said.
In addition to the 17 criminal charges, five civil lawsuits — involving seven victims who claim Van de Loo abused them — have been filed against Van de Loo and Mayo Clinic Health System.
Van de Loo was terminated from his employment at Mayo Clinic Health System on Sept. 12. He had been employed at Mayo since 1994.
Holtz can be reached at 715-833-9207, 800-236-7077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.