The prosecutor says he's going forward with felony child abuse charges against dad RICHARD GONDICK. What's interesting is that his ex-wife is now living with him again along with the kids and wants the charges dropped. It's possible that this woman has really convinced herself that she wants to "heal" her family (like that's really possible with an abuser). It's also equally possible--if not more probable--that Mom doesn't want to get into testifying against Dad out of pure fear for her personal safety and the safety of her sons. Especially when Dad is not only an abuser but a "prominent defense lawyer." Those guys have a lot of clout, and I'm sure Mom knows it.
Published September 19 2009
Abuse case goes forward against family’s wishes
HAYWARD — The ex-wife of Richard Gondik, 48, a prominent Superior defense lawyer said Friday that she and her family don’t want a prosecutor to pursue charges alleging that her former husband committed felony child abuse against their 14-year-old son. But the prosecutor said he will continue to “pursue justice.”
By: Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune
HAYWARD — The ex-wife of a prominent Superior defense lawyer said Friday that she and her family don’t want a prosecutor to pursue charges alleging that her former husband committed felony child abuse against their 14-year-old son.
But the prosecutor said he will continue to “pursue justice.”
Richard Gondik, 48, was charged in April with child abuse and disorderly conduct in an incident involving his 17- and 14- year-old sons at their home in Foxboro.
A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Friday in Sawyer County Circuit Court, but it couldn’t be held because Polk County Special Prosecutor Daniel Steffen told Judge Gerald Wright that despite
17 attempts over several weeks, authorities were unable to find Gondik’s ex-wife and two sons to serve subpoenas requiring them to testify at the preliminary hearing.
Douglas County District Attorney Dan Blank had referred the case to Steffen for a charging decision to avoid a conflict because Gondik does the bulk of his legal work in Douglas County.
Because three of his witnesses weren’t available Friday, Steffen asked the court to adjourn the preliminary hearing for a later date, but Gondik’s lawyer opposed the motion.
“Mr. Gondik has been living under the cloud of this thing long enough,’’ defense lawyer Mark Biller told the court. “It’s time to either get it teed up for trial or dismiss it.’’
Wright dismissed the felony charge without prejudice, which means Steffen can refile the charge. And that’s exactly what the special prosecutor said he plans to do Monday. The misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge remains in effect.
Gondik’s ex-wife, Terri Gondik, was reached after Friday’s hearing by phone at the Foxboro home she shares with her children and her ex-husband. She said her family doesn’t want to pursue charges against Richard.
“We are a united family, and we are in the process of healing our family,’’ she said.
She referred further questions to her lawyer, David Malban.
Malban said that he faxed a letter Friday to Steffen after the special prosecutor had already left for court. In that letter, he told Steffen that the Gondik family had healed on their own and doesn’t need his help. They would prefer not to participate in the prosecution, Malban said he told the special prosecutor.
Reached at his home Friday night, Steffen was unmoved.
“We deal with a lot of situations where the victims don’t necessarily want to participate in the process,’’ Steffen said. “But to be honest with you, as district attorney your job is to pursue justice and enforce the law, and that sometimes doesn’t necessarily mesh with what victims want. Victims’ wishes are one aspect to consider. In this situation, we will continue to follow up.’’
Gondik told the News Tribune in an interview shortly after the incident that it 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 when Gondik took the bat away from him.
Outside the courtroom Friday, Gondik said he has a hunting trip to Wyoming planned with his sons in October.
“I love my kids, and I love my ex-wife,’’ he said. “We’re trying to heal, were trying to mend. I’m trying to make this work with my ex-wife. We’re in a relationship. We’re working on that. I would just like to be a dad and a mate and not have to deal with it as a criminal defendant.’’