UPDATED: Verdict reached in child abuse case involving area principal
PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, Wis. (WKBT) — A Prairie du Chien principal is found “not guilty” of child abuse of a student. The verdict came after approximately 40 minutes of jury deliberation.
Bluff View Intermediate School Principal Aaron Amundson was charged with Physical Abuse of a Child for incident in March.
After the verdict was read, people in the courtroom cried out. A Live Facebook video of the verdict is below.
According to the criminal complaint, Amundson saw a student with the letters ‘FU’ written on the back of his hand in marker. Amundson testified Thursday that he took the student to the janitor’s closet because it had a scrub pad.
“I knew it was going to require at least a little bit of scrubbing to get it off,” Amundson said.
He used water and the scrub pad, but the writing on the child’s hand wouldn’t go away. So he grabbed the gum remover.
“And, unfortunately, I didn’t take additional time to read the bottle and then I began to use it,” Amundson said.
During cross examination, the prosecution questioned why Amundson grabbed the chemical that he had never used and argued the bottle did say that it should not come in contact with the skin.
After a brief conference between the judge and attorneys about jury instructions, the state made its closing arguments. Amy Forehand, the prosecuting attorney, said that his conduct created unreasonable harm.
“It is his conduct that is at issue, not his intent,” Forehand said.
But the defense argued his actions were negligent, not reckless, especially since he had tried other methods to clean off the student’s hand.
“If you’re making a conscious decision to disregard the safety of this kid, why did you start with water?” said Corey Chirafisi, the attorney for the defense.
The state needed to prove three elements of the crime: that Amundson caused bodily harm to the child, that he recklessly caused bodily harm, that the victim was a child.
“If you are satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that all three elements have been proved, you should find the defendant guilty,” said Lynn Rider, judge for Crawford County Circuit Court.
But that was not the case, as the jury of six men and six women delivered their decision. Supporters cheered as the verdict was read in court.
A statement from the District Administrator Bob Smudde said, “the Prairie du Chien Area School District would like to thank the community for the support during the jury trial of Mr. Aaron Amundson. With his acquittal, Mr. Amundson’s employment status will not change. Mr. Amundson will continue with the duties as the principal at Bluff View Intermediate School for the 2018-19 school year. We hope to now move into the new school year and keep the focus on our students and their needs. “
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