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Wisconsin superintendent accused in alleged student search incident makes initial court appearance

Posted at 8:06 PM, Mar 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-23 21:06:30-04

A judge ordered a $5,000 signature bond Wednesday for a school official facing charges connected to an alleged search incident of Suring students.

During her initial appearance in court, Suring Superintendent Kelly Casper was also ordered to have no contact with the alleged victims.

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During her initial appearance in court, Suring Superintendent Kelly Casper was also ordered to have no contact with the alleged victims.

Casper is charged with six counts of false imprisonment in connection to a January incident where students were searched down to their underwear for vaping materials. Raelene Helminger's daughter was one of those students.

"The psychological and emotional damage that this woman has done to these children is unspeakable," she said. "I would just hope that you would find it in your heart to do what is right and keep her away from these kids until things are completed and finished."

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Raelene Helminger's daughter was one of those students.

Casper's attorney said she has been a dedicated public servant her entire career.

"It would be hard to envision someone having stronger ties to the community," defense lawyer Nick Gansner said. "So as a result, I think a signature bond is very appropriate."

The superintendent is currently on paid administrative leave, and was ordered to have no contact with the alleged victims.

"It's hard to concentrate in school because I'm worried that I'm going to be strip searched or targeted," Victim Witness Coordinator Rachael Race said as she read a student's statement.

The D.A. says Casper lacked legal authority to confine students in a restroom during the search.

"I'm scared to go to the bathroom without them thinking I'm going to do something wrong," Race read to the court.

Casper will have a motion hearing on April 28 at 1 p.m.

The Oconto County District Attorney, Edward Burke, initially declined to file charges in the case, saying the searching of students didn't meet the state law's standards for strip searching.

According to a statement released in late February from Burke's office, the State then conducted a thorough review of the relevant State Statutes and Administrative Code provisions relating to the ability of a school employee to confine a student.

The statement says that Superintendent Kelly Casper lacked legal authority to confine the students in a small restroom located off the nurse's office located in the Suring School Public School complex during the search.

"The facts and surrounding circumstances leads the State to conclude that the children involved did not consent to being confined," according to the statement.

Burke's office says false imprisonment, a Class H Felony, is the appropriate charge for this case. The maximum potential penalties for a Class H Felony are 6 years confinement a $10,000 fine, or both, according to the state.

One count has been filed for each child involved in the incident for a total of six counts.