Abuse charges dropped against Superior lawyerThe presiding judge gave the prosecution an ultimatum: Prosecute the case more efficiently or the case will be thrown out.
By: By Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune , Superior Telegram
HAYWARD — Superior defense attorney Richard Gondik said outside a courtroom Tuesday that he and his ex-wife and his sons, including the one he is accused of assaulting, are getting along so splendidly that they are planning a spring trip to Disney World.
Gondik doesn’t know if his name will be cleared of criminal charges by then, but said he expects it eventually will be.
Both criminal charges against Gondik were dropped Tuesday because he was not properly served the complaints charging him with felony physical abuse of his 14-year-old son and disorderly conduct in an April incident at their Foxboro home.
Sawyer County Circuit Judge Gerald Wright granted the request of Balsam Lake, Wis., defense attorney Mark Biller to drop both criminal files against Gondik because he wasn’t properly summoned.
Wright told Polk County special prosecutor Daniel Steffen — who is prosecuting the case upon referral from Douglas County District Attorney Dan Blank, who sought to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest — that he had 20 days to refile the charges and have them properly served. Otherwise, he would throw the case out, the judge said.
Biller expressed frustration outside the courtroom after the hearing.
“I’m very concerned about the vexation effect that these aborted attempts to commence this prosecution are having on Mr. Gondik,’’ Biller said. “I mean let’s face it, every time we have to come to court, it does wind up in the media. It cannot but have an adverse effect on him and on his family. If the state wants to prosecute him, they have to get serious about this and do it right. And in 8½ months they simply haven’t managed to do that.’’
Wright is the third judge to hear the case. As a defense attorney, Gondik tries the majority of his cases in Douglas County. The Douglas County judges recused themselves from hearing the case because of a potential conflict, and an Ashland County judge was removed by the defense, further slowing the court process.
The special prosecutor took part in Tuesday’s hearing by teleconference, with the defense attorney, defendant and judge in the courtroom.
Gondik, 48, is the father of four children. He told the News Tribune that the incident escalated after the boys didn’t do the spring cleaning he had asked them to do around the house. He locked them out of the house and told them they could come back in when the job was done.
He said the boys became angry and verbally abusive. One boy beat on the door with a spade and the other with a baseball bat. He said the 14-year-old was accidently injured when he fell after Gondik took the bat away from him.
According to the criminal complaint, Terri Gondik told a Douglas County deputy that Richard opened the door and grabbed the bat out of their son’s hand. She said that Richard “either pushed or hit [the boy] with the bat and [the boy] fell to the ground.” She said Richard grabbed the boy by the throat and pushed him into the deck railing. She said she and her other son were yelling at the defendant to stop but he kept pushing, the complaint alleges.
Terri Gondik told the News Tribune that she doesn’t want her ex-husband prosecuted.
After Tuesday’s hearing, Gondik said he and his family are getting along “wonderful, fantastic, no problems at all. We’re planning a trip to Disney World at the spring break.’’
He also said he’s troubled by the toll the case is taking on his family.
“I feel sorry for my children and their mother due to the fact that this prosecution — if you can call it that — continues,’’ Gondik said. “I know the outcome of this trial. It’s never been in doubt. I’m confident in the facts.’’