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Hope House attorney

An attorney affiliated with a local abuse prevention and support organization is representing the son of the group’s executive director in a domestic abuse case, documents show.

In a brief phone interview Friday, Lake Delton attorney Andrea Von Hoff declined to say how she came to represent Zachary T. Allen, 32, of Baraboo.

“I don’t have a comment for that,” said Von Hoff, who works for the law firm Curran, Hollenbeck & Orton.

The firm’s website on Friday listed Von Hoff as a member of the board of directors for Hope House of South Central Wisconsin.

The nonprofit group assists domestic abuse and sexual assault victims in Sauk, Columbia, Juneau, Marquette and Adams counties and manages a shelter in Baraboo.

In December, Sauk County prosecutors filed misdemeanor charges against Allen — the son of longtime Hope House Executive Director Ellen Allen — involving an alleged domestic abuse incident.

Court documents show he retained Von Hoff as his attorney on Jan. 4. She continues to represent him, and the case is scheduled for a trial in July.

Von Hoff would not say Friday whether she believed it was a conflict for her to serve on the group’s oversight board while representing its executive director’s son in a domestic abuse case.

In a phone interview hours later, Hope House Board President Barb Stanek-Quinn said that as of Friday, Von Hoff was no longer a member of the board. However, she would not say how or when the attorney came to leave the organization.

When asked if Von Hoff was a member of the board the day before, on Thursday, Stanek-Quinn would not answer. “I just said I can’t comment on the timeline,” she said.

Tax returns filed by Hope House in 2015, 2016 and 2017 list Von Hoff as a board member. Returns from 2018 were not available Friday.

The tax records also state that Hope House has a conflict of interest policy, which the board regularly reviews. Officers are required to complete and sign a conflict of interest statement.

Victim said she met with Hope House

As a condition of Allen’s bond in the domestic abuse case, a judge ordered him to have no contact with his alleged victim. However, court documents show the woman later petitioned the judge to lift that order.

In the petition, the woman checked a number of boxes explaining why she believed it was in her best interest to lift the no contact provision. One box stated, “I have met with an advocate from Hope House about this matter.”

It is not clear whether Hope House took a position on lifting the no contact order for its executive director’s son. Stanek-Quinn said she could not comment on the matter.

The alleged victim filed the petition just days after prosecutors charged Allen, and before he retained Von Hoff to represent him.

The Sauk County District Attorney’s Office did not object to lifting the no contact provision, documents show, and Sauk County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Barrett signed off on the request.

Complaint details incident

According to the criminal complaint that prosecutors filed, the woman told police she and Allen had just left a Baraboo bar together Dec. 13 when he said something that upset her.

The woman told police he banged on the hood of her car, yelled at her, pushed her and smashed her phone. A shoving match ensued and the woman ran to a nearby bar for help, according to the complaint.

Two witness positioned across the street told police they heard the argument intensifying. After they saw Allen shove the woman over a snow bank, “he appeared to raise his fist as if to strike her,” the complaint states, prompting the witnesses to call 911.

The woman told police she did not believe Allen struck her at any point, but that he did shove her several times.

Prosecutors filed misdemeanor domestic abuse charges against him, including disorderly conduct, bail jumping and criminal damage to property.

Son was living in Hope House home

Details involving Von Hoss and her involvement in Allen’s case come days after authorities confirmed that he was living at a Baraboo home owned by Hope House months after prosecutors charged him with domestic abuse.

In a press release Thursday, Hope House’s board apologized for the “breach of trust” and said it regretted that the situation “may overshadow the mission and purpose of our agency.”

The release said Hope House has not used the 8th Avenue home as a shelter for domestic abuse victims since it moved to a new location in 2011. The group mainly uses the home for storage and Allen has moved out, the release said.

The board also said it plans to initiate an independent inquiry into the matter. In the meantime, Hope House’s program manager has been appointed as acting director.

Follow Tim Damos on Twitter @timdamos or contact him at 608-745-3513.

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