BISMARCK -- A criminal charge accusing state Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler of striking her former fiancé with an object was dismissed Friday for lack of evidence, Bismarck City Prosecutor Paul Fraase said.
Authorities arrested Baesler on Feb. 15 at her Mandan home on suspicion of simple assault, a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.
Bismarck police said her then-fiancé, Todd Tschosik, a teacher at Simle Middle School in Bismarck, reported that Baesler had assaulted him at his home early that morning. Police said Tschosik had a visible injury and dried blood on his face.
Fraase said there were two witnesses to the incident, and while they saw Baesler throw some things, "neither of those two saw anything strike the victim."
"So, I don't think there's enough to prove that the injury occurred as a result of her throwing something," he said.
Municipal Judge William Severin agreed to dismiss the charge Friday morning at Fraase's request. Baesler had pleaded not guilty to the charge and was scheduled for a court trial on Monday. She said in a statement after her arrest that an argument with Tschosik "escalated to the point where I was concerned for my safety."
Fraase said Baesler reportedly threw "some sort of candle" and possibly some Valentine's Day cards.
"The point was that nobody saw that hit him," he said.
Tschosik hadn't yet heard about the charge being dismissed when reached by phone about 2 p.m. Friday. He said "in no way" did he want the charge dismissed, and when told that Fraase said the witnesses didn't see the object hit him, he said, "That's not true."
Tschosik said he wanted to talk to Fraase and hung up. When contacted later in the afternoon, he declined to comment.
Baesler's attorney said dismissing the charge was the right decision.
"None of the evidence, including statements from two neutral and unbiased witnesses, supported Mr. Tschosik's accusations," Justin Vinje said. "And as I said before, Kirsten did not do this."
Fraase said police acted appropriately in arresting Baesler because it was a reported domestic incident involving an injury, "and it appeared that it came from her." But the witnesses were later interviewed and weren't able to confirm that whatever she threw struck Tschosik, he said.
"The police did a nice job of doing what they were supposed to do," he said.
"The police who responded at the time, all they had to go on was Todd Tschosik's accusations," he said.
Fraase said he doesn't know how Tschosik's face became injured.
"It could have been by something she threw, but I don't think I can prove that without confirmation by witnesses that were there that should have seen," he said.
Fraase said the witnesses were primarily acquaintances of Tschosik, but Baesler knew them, as well.
Municipal Judge William Severin agreed to dismiss the charge Friday morning at Fraase's request.
Baesler will be refunded $150 cash bond, and a no-contact order prohibiting her from having contact with Tschosik will be lifted, Fraase said.
Reach Mike Nowatzki at (701) 255-5607 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.