Alleged victim of Baesler assault says others witnessed it; denies assaulting her in Florida
By Mike Nowatzki
Forum News Service
BISMARCK – A man who reported being assaulted Sunday by North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler said Monday that others witnessed what happened and it’s “disappointing that there has been an attempt to discredit me personally.”
Todd Tschosik also denied assaulting Baesler, his fiancée, last summer in Orange County, Fla., where a misdemeanor battery charge against him was eventually dropped.
Tschosik was arrested July 12 in Orlando. Citing court records from the case, The Associated Press reported Monday that Tschosik allegedly straddled Baesler on a bed with his hands around her neck. Baesler didn’t want to involve police and refused to sign a statement, and the prosecutor dropped the battery charge about a month later, the AP reported.
In Sunday’s incident, Bismarck police say Tschosik reported at 1:43 a.m. that Baesler had assaulted him at his home in the 1100 block of Southport Loop. Police said Tschosik had a visible injury and dried blood on his face.
Baesler, 45, said in a statement released by her spokesman Sunday that said an argument with the 49-year-old Tschosik “escalated to the point where I was concerned for my safety,” and that it wasn’t the first situation where she felt at risk.
“In fact, the problem has been escalating in recent months,” she said. “The mistake that I made was I thought I could fix the problem, and that it was somehow my fault. But that is not true.”
In an emailed statement Monday from his attorney, Tschosik called the Florida incident “regrettable” but said there was no assault on Baesler and the charge was dropped.
“As to the unfortunate events from this past weekend, while I hope that this situation can be resolved peacefully, it is disappointing that there has been an attempt to discredit me personally as well as what happened,” he said. “There are other witnesses to verify what took place, but out of respect for the legal process and Ms. Baesler, I decline further comment at this time.”
Baesler was no longer at Tschosik’s home when Bismarck police arrived there early Sunday. Mandan police later arrested her at her home in Mandan on suspicion of simple assault, a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.
“It was uneventful,” Mandan Lt. Rick Schaaf said, adding Baesler was “very cooperative.”
Baesler was transferred to Bismarck police custody at 2:04 p.m. Sunday and booked into the Burleigh County Detention Center at 4:37 p.m.
A bond hearing was held, but because courts were closed Monday for Presidents Day, it’s unclear at what time and whether the municipal judge was there in person or conducted the hearing by phone.
Bismarck Police Lt. Steve Cysewski said it’s “not unusual at all” for a judge to hold bond hearings on holiday weekends, and he doesn’t believe Baesler received preferential treatment.
“It isn’t just because of who she is,” he said.
Bond was set at $150. Baesler’s sister posted it at 7:44 p.m., and the detention center released her at 7:55 p.m. She had not been charged as of 5 p.m. Monday.
Department of Public Instruction spokesman Dale Wetzel said Baesler is expected to return to the job Tuesday. She was out Monday, prompting cancellation of a meeting of the State Board of Higher Education nominating committee, which she chairs.
An initial court hearing for Baesler was scheduled for Tuesday morning. Her attorney, Justin Vinje, is expected to appear on her behalf, Wetzel said. Vinje did not return a message left at his office Monday.
Baesler told Forum News Service late Monday night that she was unable to comment on the matter.
Cysewski said he wasn’t at liberty to release additional details of the alleged incident because it was still under investigation and police administration had to review the report before its release.
Party officials and Gov. Jack Dalrymple treaded lightly in reacting to the arrest of Baesler.
Dalrymple had not been in contact with Baesler since her arrest, spokesman Jeff Zent said.
“With such little information about what’s occurred here, it just would be irresponsible to make any comment,” he said.
Chad Oban, executive director of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party, also had no comment on the matter, citing the lack of details.
North Dakota GOP Chairman Robert Harms said in a statement that thoughts and prayers were with Baesler and her family, “and we hope they are allowed some time to work through these personal issues.”
“This is a troubling reminder of what is, unfortunately, a situation for many families across our state,” he said. “We hope that this incident will spur a public conversation about domestic violence and will help others in similar circumstances to take appropriate corrective steps.”
Baesler was elected state superintendent in November 2012. A native of Flasher, she had previously served as a library assistant, as a library media specialist and assistant principal in the Bismarck Public School District, and for seven years as president of the Mandan School Board.
Court records show Baesler pleaded guilty to Class B misdemeanor theft in January 1997 in Mandan Municipal Court. She received a deferred imposition of sentence and was ordered to pay $100.
Regarding the theft charge, Wetzel said Baesler was grocery shopping with her 9-year-old son and 4-year-old twin sons, had a cart full of groceries, and placed a bag of macadamia nuts in her purse and forgot to pay for them.
Bismarck Public Schools honored Tschosik last May for his 25 years of service as a teacher at Simle Middle School.
Court records show he was convicted of misdemeanor reckless driving for an incident in January 2011. He pleaded guilty in December to driving under the influence.