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Controversy over Milwaukee County Sheriff Schmidt's comments made on podcast regarding marriage problems

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Acting Milwaukee County Sheriff Richard Schmidt is clarifying comments he made on a podcast over the weekend.

He's being accused of 'victim blaming' in domestic violence situations. Sheriff Schmidt says the clip from the online radio show was taken out of context.

Sheriff Schmidt has recorded about 125 religious-themed podcasts over the past 5 or so years.

They get posted to the website SermonAudio.

The clip that caught the ear of activists had to do with marriage, specifically marriage problems during a discussion with a local pastor. 

A press conference brought together representatives from groups including the Wisconsin Women's March and Voces de la Frontera.

"We know that domestic violence, if there aren't ways to intervene, can and will lead to death. That's not acceptable for someone who wants to run for Milwaukee County Sheriff," said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Exec. Dir. for Voces de la Frontera Action.

In one clip, activists say Sheriff Schmidt agreed with spousal submission in the face of violence.

"They're just on the precipice of destruction wondering how in the world do I get out of this? What can I do? Is there any hope? And they're listening to us this morning and pastor, they're saying can you help me? Is there any hope? What do we tell them? Well, first of all I tell 'em quit trying to change your spouse because that's uncontrollable. Change yourself," Acting Sheriff Richard Schmidt said on the podcast.

Schmidt says the words are being misrepresented.

"Anytime there's violence and a domestic issue, the first thing that needs to happen is that 911 gets called. It's by law that the suspect or the person who abused the person has gotta go to jail. That is mandatory law. So, after that takes place, then what happens. Well they get through the judicial system and maybe they get some counseling, get some help, then we get to where our discussion started with Dr. Huffman on that particular day," said Schmidt.

He also says with the election ahead of him, his opponents are trying to spin the truth. This group says it's the opposite.

"Personally and other organizations felt that we had to speak out because people don't know what Sheriff Schmidt's true positions are. And he's someone who will continue the legacy of Clarke unless people vote him out."

There are three candidates running for Milwaukee County Sheriff, Richard Schmidt, Earnell Lucas, and Robert Ostrowski. 

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