No charges in assault incident
No charges will be filed in the assault incident involving Detroit Lakes Superintendent Mark Adams and Mark Rothschadl of rural Ogema.
The two men brought mutual assault complaints following an incident Sept. 9 at Rothschadl's farm, but no charges will be filed because each alleges he was assaulted by the other and there were no other witnesses to the incident, according to a news release from the Becker County Attorney's Office.
"Each party provides a different version of the events. Each alleges that he was struck first by the other. There are no independent witnesses to the event. The physical evidence does not favor one version over the other," County Attorney Joe Evans said in a news release.
"In order to sustain a criminal charge, it is the obligation of the state to prove all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt," he added. "Given the facts and circumstances of this case, it is the opinion of the Becker County Attorney's Office that the state would be unable to sustain its burden of proof. As a result, criminal charges will not be filed against either party."
The assault allegations were investigated by the White Earth Tribal Police and the Becker County Sheriff's Department, then presented to the Becker County Attorney's Office for review.
Adams was at a meeting in the Twin Cities Friday and could not be reached for comment. The phone was busy at the Rothschadl residence. Evans was in a meeting and unavailable for comment.
In an earlier interview, Adams described the incident as a wrestling match that lasted less than a minute.
In court-ordered no-contact orders the two men received against each other, Adams charged that: Rothschadl "punched me in the head, attempted to kick me in the groin, threw me into (against) my vehicle and then his vehicle. He charged me physically and assaulted me."
For his part, Rothschadl said Adams instigated the incident during an argument.
"We became physically closer and I put my arm out to keep him away," Rothschadl said in his request for a no-contact order, which he obtained two days before Adams. "Shortly after, a confrontation occurred and he hit me in the face, resulting in me going to the emergency room the next day."
Rothschadl said doctors in Fargo diagnosed him with a fractured eye socket consistent with a blow to the face. He underwent surgery three days after the incident.
Rothschadl's ex-wife, Terri Anderson, is now Adams' "significant other," Adams said in his request for a no-contact order.
Rothschadl said he and Terri divorced last month.
Adams and his wife divorced July 16, according to the Itasca County Court Administrator's office.
The men gave differing accounts to police officers about what happened after they agreed to meet at Rothschadl's farm.
Adams said he went to the farm to talk about keeping the children out of the middle of the dispute, since Rothschadl had repeatedly told his ex-wife he would never allow the kids near Adams.
He said conversation was civil at first, but Rothschadl begin pacing, then stuck a finger in his chest, then grabbed him and shoved him up against a vehicle. Adams said Rothschadl "threw a punch which glanced off (my) head," because he ducked under it, and then the two begin wrestling.
"Mark A. said that him and Mark R. bounced all over. Mark A. said he threw punches and Mark R. threw punches. Mark A. said him and Mark R. ended up entangling with each other. Mark A. said they both ended up hitting the ground," the responding officer wrote after talking to Adams.
In his statement, Rothschadl said Adams "began talking about his (Rothschadl's) former wife and how they were going to be together and how he was going to be getting closer to his kids... he told (me) like it or not he was going to be their stepfather," Rothschadl told police the day of the incident.
Rothschadl told Adams he "wasn't going to let him near his kids anytime soon."
The conversation grew heated and he pointed a finger at Adams' chest. "That's when Mark Adams punched him in the eye," the officer wrote in his report. Rothschadl said "Mark Adams sucker punched him and he remembers hitting the ground..."
In her statement to police on the day of the incident, Terri Anderson said it was the first time the two men met, and that she had asked Adams that there be no violence. Though the two men had had stormy phone conversations months earlier, things seemed to have calmed down.
"I pretty much hoped and said a prayer that (a civil discussion) would be what would happen when those two finally met," she told a tribal police officer who responded at the farm. She was called there by Adams after the incident was over.
Now that a decision has been made not to file charges, the chairman of the Detroit Lakes School Board, Dr. Tom Seaworth, said he will poll board members and talk to the district's attorney.
"If any further action needs to be taken it will be taken as a board," he said. "In this case, if a person is accused, it's different than if they did it. We allowed the authorities to investigate and they came back and said no charges will be filed."
Seaworth said that he hopes, for the sake of everyone involved, that "this will be the end of it and everybody will get on with their lives in a safe and healthy manner."