Adams wins right to see Rothschadl kids
Detroit Lakes Superintendent Mark Adams won a court skirmish last week when a judge dropped a harassment restraining order against him on behalf of two children, a 10-year-old girl, and a 7-year-old boy.
They are the children of Mark Rothschadl of rural Ogema and Terri Anderson of White Earth Lake. The two are now divorced and Anderson is the "significant other" of Adams.
Rothschadl obtained the harassment protection order -- for himself and his two children -- after a Sept. 9 incident at his farm in which he says Adams punched him in the face without warning while trying to force the issue of involvement with the Rothschadl children.
Adams says the two men fought after Rothschadl attacked him when he went to the farm to talk about being involved in the lives of the Rothschadl children in a step-parenting type role.
A Becker County grand jury has charged Adams with felony first-degree assault and felony third-degree assault in the incident.
Rothschadl, who was not charged, suffered a broken eye socket.
Adams is on paid administrative leave from his superintendent job.
On Thursday before District Judge Lisa Borgen, Adams contested the restraining order preventing him from seeing the Rothschadl children.
Rothschadl's attorney, Lynn Hummel of Detroit Lakes, urged the judge to leave the order intact.
"This is a time for caution, to keep things where they are ... Mr. Adams is under indictment," he said.
"Adams has absolutely no legal standing to have access to these children. He's not a parent. He's not a stepparent -- legally, he's a stranger," Hummel said.
As a good parent, Rothschadl's role is to protect his children as much as possible, "from bad TV, from bad role models ... other than physically beating children, the worst thing you can do to children is break up their family, and that's what has happened."
Because of its ramifications, the order should be treated with the seriousness of a custody hearing, he said.
But Adam's attorney, Paul Thorwaldsen, argued that there was no firm legal foundation for the restraining order.
"It's important that everyone realize this is a harassment restraining order, not an order for protection," he said. "Victims of harassment, including children, can seek relief through the court. But it's impossible for these kids to ever have been harassed by Mr. Adams because they have never met Mr. Adams."
Harassment orders are designed to prevent things like stalking and youth gang involvement, Thorwaldsen said. "Mr. Rothschadl has no standing in this court at all, his children never met Mr. Adams, there has been no harassment at all ... he wanted him (Adams) to have no place in the lives of his children."
The original restraining order keeps Adams away from the Rothschadl lake home on White Earth Lake, which has since been awarded to his ex-wife, Thorwaldsen said.
"This is an attempt to keep him (Adams) away from Terri Anderson," he added.
Borgen noted that "the court is always interested in the protection of children," but ultimately sided with Thorwaldsen, saying that there is "no factual basis for a court to order a restraining order between Mr. Adams and the children ... How could we go forward in proving (the need for a) harassment restraining order on the children when he's never met them?"
The restraining order keeping Adams away from Rothschadl was extended for two years: Adams did not contest that. The order pertaining to the children was lifted.
Thorwaldsen said Adams' ex-wife was at the courthouse and prepared to testify about his relationship with his own children. "There was never any abuse in the family," he said.
Adams' next court appearance on the assault charges, an omnibus hearing, is set for 1:30 p.m. Dec. 18 before Becker County District Judge Jack Pearson.