Austin school custodian accused of sexual assault
Several years after it began, a victim has accused an Austin man — who is a 12-year employee of Austin Public Schools — of repeated sexual molestations.
Gordon Thomas Gunter, 57, was charged Thursday in Mower County Court with seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim younger than 13. Gunter, now on unpaid administrative leave, is a custodian at I.J. Holton Intermediate School, according Mark Stotts, district finance and operations director. Though, the criminal complaint filed in court does not indicate any sexual assault occurred at the school. Gunter is denying the allegations.
According to the complaint, the victim recalled first being sexually assaulted at the age of 6. The victim accused Gunter of many sexual assaults in Gunter’s basement in Austin for several years after that, as well. The victim further accused Gunter of sexual assaults during bike rides through the woods in northeast Austin while Gunter’s wife was at home.
Gunter allegedly threatened to kill the victim’s mother if the victim reported crimes, the complaint added.
Gunter denied the accusations in his court complaint and said the victim was lying and may have been mad at him for being strict over the years. Gunter further told an investigator he had been sexually assaulted in the past, so he wouldn’t do that to somebody else.
Austin Public Schools officials issued a statement to parents on Friday afternoon mentioning an employee had been placed on unpaid administrative leave, and to their knowledge, none of the misconduct happened at a school. Stotts confirmed the email was in reference to Gunter.
“There is no indication that any of these charges occurred in a school building or on district property,” the email said. “The employee has been placed on unpaid administrative leave pending further investigation.”
The email said school officials found out about the charges Thursday evening. I.J. Holton Principal Jean McDermott said in the email addressed to parents to contact her with any questions or concerns at 507-460-1525 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gunter has a June 6 pretrial in Mower County Court.
While it’s too late for district officials to add the issue to the next school board agenda, the issue could arise later this month at a work session or at the regular, monthly meeting in March.