By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — A former Wausau East High School employee who sexually assaulted two students will spend three years on probation and 15 years on the sex offender registry after reaching a plea deal Thursday in Marathon County Circuit Court.

Kurtis Hornby, 48, received a withheld sentence on amended charges of misconduct in office and two counts of fourth degree sexual assault of a child. A withheld sentence means if Hornby is not successful on probation, he will return to court and be re-sentenced on the charges.

The amended charges are a significant reduction from the original charges of child enticement, sexual assault of a student by school staff, and second degree sexual assault of a child. By pleading no contest to the three reduced charges, Hornby avoids a three-day jury trial that would have begun in January.

Hornby was the director of the tech crew at Wausau East during the 2016-2017 school year and in the summer of 2017. An investigation into the allegations began Sept. 1, 2018. Hornby was placed on administrative leave on Sept. 6, 2018 and was fired nine days later, according to school officials.

According to court documents, police contacted a former foreign exchange student who attended East during Hornby’s tenure there. The student, whose name is being withheld to protect her identity as the victim of a crime, told police Hornby picked her up one evening from the home where she was staying and took her to Marathon Park. There, he allegedly unbuttoned her shirt and fondled her breasts, police said.

In a separate case filed in January 2018, Hornby was charged with second degree sexual assault of a child after a 15-year-old student told police Hornby reached beneath her shirt, groped her breasts and put his hand under the waistband of her pants. The student told police Hornby assaulted her on several occasions in the school auditorium.

The two cases were consolidated and are now closed.

At sentencing, Circuit Judge Greg Huber ordered Hornby to have no contact with anyone younger than 18 except for children of his own. Hornby is also prohibited from working or volunteering with schools.

All victim impact statements have been sealed at the request of prosecutors.