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St. Croix County judge binds Gaustad over for trial

By LeAnn R. Ralph

HUDSON — A St. Croix County judge has found probable cause and has bound over for trial a Glenwood City High School teacher charged with five felonies related to sex crimes involving a teenaged girl in Missouri.

Peter L. O. Gaustad, along with his attorney, Shirlene Perrin, appeared in St. Croix County Circuit Court April 17 for a preliminary hearing before Judge Edward Vlack.

During a preliminary hearing, witnesses give testimony that a judge uses to determine whether there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. If the judge finds probable cause, then the defendant is bound over for trial and an arraignment hearing is scheduled.

Judge Vlack set a cash bail of $100,000 for Gaustad during a hearing April 6, and during the preliminary hearing April 17, neither Perrin nor prosecutor Michael Nieskes asked for a modification of bail.

Gaustad is charged with two felony counts of child sexual exploitation as well as felony counts of exposing a child to harmful material, causing a child between the ages of 13 and 18 to view sexual activity and using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime.

Gaustad allegedly exchanged sexually explicit images and messages with a 15-year-old high school sophomore in Missouri.

According to the criminal complaint, the Boone County Sheriff’s Office in Missouri referred the case to law enforcement officials with the Wisconsin Department of Justice after a detective with the Boone County Missouri Sheriff’s Department received a telephone call from a concerned citizen on March 23 about her 15-year-old daughter, who had been talking with a 45-year-old man from Wisconsin.

The girl told her mother she was in contact with a 45-year-old teacher who lives in Glenwood City, Wisconsin, and she had used Whisper and Snapchat to communicate. The girl also said she had told him she was a sophomore in high school, that she had sent several nude photographs to him, and he had sent nudes to her, according to the complaint.

In addition to teaching social studies at Glenwood City High School, Gaustad has served as the girls’ head softball coach and the junior varsity girls’ basketball coach.

Gaustad was first elected to the Glenwood City Common Council in April of 2016 and was re-elected to a second term in the April 3 election with 81 votes for alderperson.

After his arrest on April 5, Gaustad resigned from the Glenwood City Common Council.

Gaustad is scheduled for an arraignment hearing in St. Croix County Circuit Court May 14 at 3:30 p.m.

During an arraignment hearing, defendants most often plead “not guilty” and further court proceedings are scheduled.

Gaustad was still in custody at the time of the preliminary hearing.