Wis. dad, friend charged in pit bull attack on son
MILWAUKEE – A Wisconsin man who suspected an 18-year-old visiting his home of stealing morphine and gold coins was charged Thursday with tying the teen by his ankles and ordering his pit bull to attack, while the teen's own father helped.
Richard R. Lisko, 58, is charged with false imprisonment, injury by negligent use of a dangerous weapon and substantial battery. The teen's father, Joel E. Kennedy, 43, is charged with being party to a crime of the same felonies, and also with failing to help a victim.
Prosecutors said Kennedy and his son, Joel Kennedy Jr., visited Lisko's home last Friday for the Labor Day weekend, and Lisko began accusing the teen of theft. He then commanded his dog, Bubba, to attack, the criminal complaint said.
The teen told investigators Lisko then tied the dog leash around his ankles, and Lisko and his father suspended the teen from a porch rafter. He said the dog was ordered to attack him further, and that he was kept upside down for about an hour.
The teen suffered cuts and punctures to his neck, ears and scalp that investigators said appeared consistent with dog bites and scratches. He also had rope burns around his feet and ankles.
"My dad helped the guy tie me up," the teen told WISN-TV. "I was dripping blood everywhere, all over the place. I kept thinking 'What's going to happen to me? What's going to happen to me?'"
Kennedy told detectives he didn't try to stop Lisko "because he was paralyzed with fear that Lisko was a member of the Outlaw bikers," the complaint said. "He also stated that he felt his son needed to be taught a lesson."
Kennedy had no attorney at an initial court appearance, where a judge ordered him held on $50,000 cash bond. The judge imposed a $100,000 cash bond on Lisko.
A woman who answered the phone at the Fond du Lac County public defender's office Thursday afternoon said her office hadn't received any requests for attorneys to represent either man.
Lisko faces unrelated charges of child abuse stemming from 2011 allegations that he repeatedly punched a boy who tried to stop Lisko's dog from attacking the boy's mother. A jury trial in that case is set for December.
Defense attorney Dan Stevens, who represents Lisko in the prior case and said he expects to be Lisko's lawyer for the new charges, said his client never would order his dog to attack a person.
"As far as I know (the 18-year-old) had taunted the dog in the past," he said. "There was a bad relationship between the dog and the boy based upon a previous situation."
Joel Kennedy Jr. told investigators he'd never had a problem with the dog. He said when he first arrived at Lisko's home in Campbellsport, about 50 miles northwest of Milwaukee, the dog was friendly and licking his face. The dog only attacked on Lisko's command, he said.
The teen said his ordeal ended when Lisko's friend, Harry Haack, stopped by and demanded the men release him.
"He's the only one who did the right thing," the teen told WISN.
The Associated Press tried to reach the teen through his stepfather and grandfather but telephone messages were not immediately returned.
Haack told AP that Lisko called him Friday about 10 p.m., shouting for him to come over. Haack, a 56-year-old mechanic who lives a few miles away, said he grew nervous when he saw Lisko's driveway was dark and few lights were on in the house.
He said he walked cautiously into the house and looked around, noticing what appeared to be laundry hanging from a clothesline on the darkened porch. Then he saw movement.
"I looked closely, and here I found this young kid hanging upside-down," Haack said. "I had to yell at them guys twice to take him down."
Haack, meanwhile, defended Bubba as "the nicest dog in the world."
"I've got 15, 17 cats in my shop. That dog puts up with my cats hitting him in the nose, stalking him down. Never bothers him," Haack said. "The only way that dog does anything is by command. He's so laid-back otherwise."
Associated Press writer Carrie Antlfinger in Milwaukee and researcher Judy Ausuebel in New York contributed to this report.
Dinesh Ramde can be reached at dramde(at)ap.org.