By Shereen Siewert
A former Mosinee Middle School teacher who lost her job after a 12-year-old child made allegations of sexual misconduct against her is suing the student, the school district and the Mosinee Police Chief, alleging she was the victim of lies and malicious prosecution.
In a claim filed Jan. 27 in federal court, 50-year-old Christy Mathis and her husband also allege defamation and violation of due process.
Mosinee School Superintendent David Muñoz, School Board President Kevin Hermening, Middle School Principal Brad Grube, the city of Mosinee, Mosinee Police Chief Kenneth Grams, Officer Eric Krause and the child’s parents are all personally named in the lawsuit.
In the federal complaint, Mathis said child sex charges filed against her in Marathon County Circuit Court were the result of a “shoddy investigation” and a scheme by the child and her friends who were angry with Mathis for enforcing the school’s cell phone policy. Mathis alleges the “vicious, false and defamatory statements” made by the girl were “aided and abetted” by the other defendants named in the suit who perpetuated a malicious prosecution that violated her rights.
Mathis, in her complaint, said the girl made up allegations that she was touched sexually as part of a plot to get the teacher in trouble, after a March 25, 2021 incident in which the girl was caught using a cell phone in class. Principal Grube investigated the complaint by interviewing students who claimed to be witnesses as well as other students in the room. The students’ written statements were never provided to Mathis, who was informed that afternoon that she was being sent home due to a student complaint.
The girl’s accusation was initially backed up by two of her friends — but when they returned from spring break, several classmates contacted the investigating police officer and said that the allegation was untrue, according to federal documents.
The story of the sexual assault charge, along with Mathis’ photo, ran in online publications including People magazine and the British tabloid the Daily Star. All local media outlets also reported on the story.
Muñoz, in an email to Wausau Pilot & Review, said the Mosinee School District does not comment about active lawsuits.
Lawsuit alleges red flags, shoddy investigation
Mathis said she was not given notice of the accusations against her, nor was she given the chance to respond and was instead directed to complete a statement about the student allegations even though she did not know the nature of the allegations or the identity of the student who made them. Then, on April 5, Mathis was arrested by Mosinee Police officer Krause and charged with first-degree child sexual assault.
Mathis points to several red flags that she says investigators and district officials ignored that should have called the allegations against her into serious doubt. Two students, believed to be close friends of Mathis’ accuser, approached the officer and said they “felt this was going too far,” and the officer also allegedly received emails from witnesses who stated that a “group of students were lying about the whole thing.” The email also stated that the students planned to do the same thing to other teachers.
But Krause discounted those emails and statements from at least three informants who said the story was a lie, according to the lawsuit. The Mosinee school Board met July 12 to consider Mathis’ employment status and terminated her before a judge found probable cause to proceed in the case. Mathis said she did not attend the meeting because she was concerned about violating the conditions of her bond and because she believed the School Board had already pre-judged her case.
The Mosinee School District, in a letter to parents that was shared with the media, said that Mathis was not offered a contract renewal for reasons “based entirely on Ms. Mathis’s performance as a teacher.”
“The events that resulted in criminal charges against Ms. Mathis had nothing to do with the decision not to renew her contract,” the letter states.
On Aug. 9, 2021, Superintendent Muñoz barred Mathis and her husband
from school property “because of Superintendent Muñoz’s unfounded and unsupported fears that their presence would cause disruption and aggressive, violent behavior in response to their presence on school grounds,” the lawsuit states. That, Mathis said, laid the groundwork for her to be ostracized from the district and tilt public opinion toward believing the allegations against her.
Two days later, all charges were dismissed for lack of probable cause against Mathis by Circuit Judge Mike Moran, who reviewed the evidence against her.
But though Mathis was exonerated, the Mosinee School Board refused to reconsider her termination from the District. As recently as Oct. 1, Mathis and her husband were threatened with trespassing charges if they came onto school property, the lawsuit states.
The Mosinee School District pursued the investigation for the “improper purpose of finding a justification to terminate (Mathis’) employment and in an effort to cover up the Mosinee Police Department’s and their own reckless handling” of the “false and defamatory accusations” against her, the lawsuit states.
Mathis is seeking damages, attorney fees and court costs, and compensation for “the injuries and damages sustained for loss of consortium,” with interest.