Sheriff denies ex-Trinity principal’s lawsuit allegations

BISMARCK — The final defendant in the former Trinity High School principal’s federal lawsuit against the city of Dickinson and three law enforcement officials denied allegations made against him on Monday.

Stark County Sheriff Terry Oestreich denied Thomas Sander’s allegations in a U.S. District Court complaint that he was subjected to intimidating interrogation while Oestreich was a detective with the Dickinson Police Department investigating the March 3, 2014, fire that destroyed parts of the school.

Sander claimed in a complaint, filed June 8, that he was “seized, confined, and subjected to unreasonable force, including coercive, threatening, and intimidating interrogation, by law enforcement officials,” including Oestreich, Detective Sgt. Kylan Klauzer and Detective Jeremy Moser, “until he falsely confessed to starting the fi re.”

Sander is suing the city of Dickinson, the three law enforcement officials and up to 10 unnamed “Doe” defendants for emotional and financial damages that allegedly occurred during his incarceration after he claimed that Klauzer and Oestreich coerced him into admitting that he started the Trinity fire during an interrogation March 4 and 5, 2014.

The Press incorrectly reported on July 29 that Oestreich was part of a similar response filed by the city of Dickinson, Klauzer and Moser, referred to in court documents as “city defendants.” Oestreich fi led his complaint response alone because he does not share the same attorney as the city defendants. Michael Waller of the firm Crowley Fleck in Bismarck is representing Oestreich while attorney Scott Porsborg represents the city defendants.

Oestreich’s response admits and denies the same allegations and matters made by Sander as did the city defendants. He also used the same defenses, including that Sander “caused or aggravated his alleged damages,” and that he had no control over them, and that Sander cannot show he has suffered any constitutional violation.

Sander’s complaint alleges he was not properly advised of his Miranda rights during his arrest, which is why Stark County State’s Attorney Tom Henning did not pursue the criminal charges of arson and endangerment by fire against the former principal.

Judge William Herauf signed off on dismissing those charges July 7, 2014, after he ruled to suppress statements Sander made after the first 1 hour, 55 minutes, 22 seconds of his interrogation by Klauzer and Oestreich performed in the two days following the fire. A pretrial scheduling and discovery conference will be held at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 14, according to court documents.

Author: Dustin Monke

Former newspaper editor. Now I market the best baked goods and donuts in America. But every once in a while, I write a cool story too.

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