Jewish World Review March 29, 2001 / 5 Nissan, 5761
'Why wouldn't she believe she can
HE thinks about it every day of his life. He knows
he will probably think about it until the day he
"When she peeked her head out from underneath
the blanket in the cage where they kept her, I
guess I was overwhelmed at first," said Daniel
Alloy, an officer with the Brillion, Wis., police department.
On a cold Wisconsin night in November of 1997, Alloy went to the home of
Michael and Angeline Rogers after their 11-year-old son had walked
barefoot and in tears to the Brillion police station. The boy said his parents
had been keeping his 7-year-old sister in a dog cage in their basement; he
said they deprived her of food and water.
In school, the boy had been taught that if you're in trouble, find a police
officer. So he had walked alone in the dark on that freezing night to ask for
help for his sister.
When Officer Alloy got to the house, Michael and Angeline Rogers looked
him right in the face and said the boy was not telling the truth -- that there was
no one in the basement.
Alloy went down there anyway. The basement was unlighted and unheated.
He saw nothing. But then, in the beam of his flashlight, he saw that there was
a door to another small room.
He opened it. There, on the floor, was the 24-inch-by-17-inch cage. And the
little girl, covered in her own waste, looked out at him from under a soiled
"I helped her out of the cage, and took her hand and got her out of there . . .,"
he said the other day, and then his voice trailed off.
We were talking because Angeline Rogers -- as was reported in Sunday's
column -- has been granted a new hearing by Judge Steven Weinke. Weinke
is the judge who gave Mr. and Mrs. Rogers no state prison time at all, even
though they pleaded guilty to felonies against their children that could have put
them away for 40 years. He allowed them to live in the Calumet County,
Wis., jail for a year, and to leave for up to 60 hours a week. When Mrs.
Rogers escaped and fled to Texas, then was recaptured and went back
before Judge Weinke, he still gave her no additional time.
Another judge sent her to prison on the separate escape charge, and the
Wisconsin Department of Corrections revoked her probation. But she has
written to Judge Weinke from prison, asking for him to revise her sentence --
and he has set a hearing on her request for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in the county
courthouse in Fond du Lac, Wis.
The five Rogers children -- including the girl who had been kept in the cage,
and the brother who saved her by going to the police -- have been split up.
They live in five different homes. We have learned that the parental rights of
Michael Rogers (who is back on the streets) and Angeline Rogers have been
terminated. But when Mrs. Rogers escaped from jail, the children were said
to be fearful and upset.
"I check on the children periodically," Alloy said. "They will always be a big
part of my life. If she is let out of prison now, I think the children will be
traumatized by it. In my opinion, based on knowing the children, the longer
she stays in prison, the better chance the children have to heal and go on with
But Judge Weinke is in charge of that decision. When he declined to give her
any extra punishment after she had escaped from jail, one reason he stated
from the bench was that she had a good work record at the factory to which
she commuted from jail. Angeline Rogers had taken off from jail, and never
returned to work -- in Judge Weinke's mind, evidently that is what constitutes
a good job record: running off, giving no notice, and not coming to work
again. The citizens of Wisconsin, with their tax money, pay him for that kind
And now, because Angeline Rogers wrote him a letter from prison, Judge
Weinke will decide whether to resentence her in a way that will please her.
"Will she get out of prison Tuesday?" Officer Alloy, the man who saved the
children, asked. "You wouldn't think she would have a chance, because of
what she did.
"But she has every reason to believe it's a possibility. Why wouldn't she
believe she can get out now?
"She wrote the letter to Weinke, and Weinke's the one who's holding the
hearing. Of course she has to believe she has a chance. Because it's Judge
JWR contributor Bob Greene is a novelist and columnist. Send your comments to him by clicking here.
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