The criminal trial for Eau Claire pediatrician David Van de Loo, accused of sexually assaulting 16 former male patients, won’t be held in Eau Claire County.
But the dates of the trial and its location are still up in the air.
Eau Claire County Judge Michael Schumacher granted Van de Loo’s motion for a change of venue on Thursday.
“There’s a reasonable likelihood a fair trial cannot be had in Eau Claire County,” Schumacher said.
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. Van de Loo saw nearly 8,000 patients in 2006 and 2007 alone, the judge said. Van de Loo was a Mayo Clinic Health System doctor from 1994 until being fired in September.
Schumacher will work with 10th Judicial District Court Administrator Scott Johnson to determine the location of the trial.
“It’s going to take some coordination,” Schumacher said.
The trial location will likely be selected at a June 4 hearing.
Eau Claire County District Attorney Gary King suggested prosecutors and defense attorneys be given a list of counties that could handle such a trial, which could last up to three weeks.
“Then let the parties weigh in on that list,” he said.
Van de Loo’s attorney, Rich White of Eau Claire, said the trial should be held outside of Mayo Clinic Health System’s coverage area. White suggested any part of northwestern Wisconsin north of La Crosse may be off limits.
Before entering private practice, White was an Eau Claire County prosecutor for 22 years, and was district attorney for 11 years.
Historically, White said, he felt a change of venue was “a rarely needed mechanism.”
But the Van de Loo case, he said. “is a truly extraordinary situation.”
The trial will last two to three weeks and involve 50 to 100 witnesses, including at least eight expert witnesses, White said.
The trial also will involve multiple attorneys.
White will be assisted by Madison attorney Stephen Hurley, while King will be joined by Karie Cattanach, an assistant attorney general with the state Justice Department.
King said prosecutors would be ready for trial by fall, but White believes it may have to be pushed into 2014.
“This is a significant and complicated undertaking,” White said.
And if the trial doesn’t end before the middle of November, deer hunting, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day could become issues, he said.
“We can’t do this around the holidays,” White said. “I don’t see how we could go too much quicker than early 2014.”
Van de Loo, 60, 3805 Patton St., has pleaded not guilty to 17 felony charges.
In addition to the 17 criminal charges, five civil lawsuits involving seven claimed victims have been filed against Van de Loo and Mayo Clinic Health System.
Holtz can be reached at 715-833-9207, 800-236-7077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.