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Baraboo domestic abuse defendant lived in home owned by Hope House

April 12, 2019

Authorities confirmed Thursday that a domestic abuse defendant was living in a home owned by a local nonprofit group that provides assistance and shelter to domestic abuse victims in Sauk, Columbia, Juneau, Marquette and Adams counties.

Baraboo Police Department Capt. Rob Sinden said Zachary T. Allen, 32, of Baraboo, was living at the 8th Avenue property March 3 when police arrived there to check on his welfare.

At the time, Allen was facing charges of misdemeanor disorderly conduct, bail jumping and criminal damage to property in relation to a Dec. 13 domestic abuse incident. That case still is pending.

Police had been informed that Allen threatened to harm himself, and they later took him into custody following a standoff that shut down traffic through Baraboo. Allen was not charged in relation to the incident.

Sinden also confirmed that Allen is the son Ellen Allen, the executive director of Hope House of South Central Wisconsin. The nonprofit group owns the 8th Avenue home, according to Sauk County property records.

It remains unclear how Allen came to live at the property and how long he resided there. A voice message left for his mother on Thursday afternoon was not returned.

The Hope House Board of Directors issued a press release Thursday evening in response to a report published by a Madison TV station, which first broke the story.

The board apologized for the “breach of trust” created by the incident, and said Allen is no longer living at the home. The release also said the home has not been used as a shelter for victims since Hope House moved to a new location in 2011.

“The building has been used primarily for storage,” the release said. “We regret that this may overshadow the mission and purpose of our agency.”

The release said Hope House’s program manager has been appointed as acting director and that the organization plans to initiate an independent inquiry into the matter.

Sinden said the revelation should not raise concerns about the group’s efficacy in the eyes of the public, or discourage victims from reaching out to Hope House for assistance.

“One thing I want to say is we work with Hope House almost on a daily basis,” he said. “Our relationship with them has been nothing but professional. It’s been our experience that they’ve done nothing but help clients that we refer over to them.”