Amundson pleads not guilty

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Aaron Amundson

By Ted Pennekamp

 

Bluff View Principal Aaron Amundson entered a plea of not guilty at his arraignment in Crawford County Circuit Court Tuesday afternoon to a charge of child abuse-recklessly causing harm.

A 14-year-old boy, a student at Bluff View, sustained a burn to his hand when Amundson attempted to clean off a profanity, according to the criminal complaint.

Amundson, 43, faces up to 3.5 years of imprisonment and a $10,000 fine if convicted. He is accused of applying gum remover to the boy’s hand on March 21 and scrubbing with a Scotch Brite pad.

Crawford County Circuit Court Judge Lynn Rider set a status conference for July 16 at 10:30 a.m. Any motions that are filed will be decided at the status conference. A change of venue is an example of one motion that may be filed.

Rider, defense attorney Corey Chirafisi and District Attorney Amy Forehand also discussed the possibility of sending a survey of questions out to the potential jury pool because of the amount of publicity the case has received.

Rider set the trial dates as Aug. 21 through Aug. 24.

School District Statement

Prior to Amundson’s arraignment, Prairie du Chien School District Superintendent Robert Smudde released a statement saying that Amundson is no longer on non-disciplinary paid leave.

The statement said, “It is the position of the Prairie du Chien Area School District to put Mr. Aaron Amundson back to full active status.

“Given light of recent events, it is our belief that Mr. Amundson’s status be changed in order to get the district back to full strength. The district welcomes his expertise and his continual demonstrated success as Bluff View Intermediate School has been a Title School of Recognition for the past six years under his leadership.

“We understand that individuals may disagree with this decision, but based on the facts of the situation surrounding the court case against Mr. Amundson, we feel this decision is best for the district and the students therein. 

“The Crawford County Judge has issued orders that reflect that Mr. Amundson is allowed back to work, with only incidental contact with the student involved with this incident. Secondly, the judge stated in open court that she questioned the finding for probable cause, but gave deference to the state, and bound the case over for trial.

“As we continue to monitor the ongoing case, it is the position of the district that throughout this process, all agencies involved have stated that Mr. Amundson does not represent a danger to children, that in fact, this incident was an error in judgement without intent to harm. If the facts of this case change, the district will adjust its actions to reflect the findings of fact in this endeavor.

“As with this entire process, the district has limited the exposure of the student and Mr. Amundson with the leave status, and now the facts dictate that Mr. Amundson return to work at his full capacity.”

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