District investigator, police searching for other possible victims
BROOKFIELD — A nowretired Elmbrook School District teacher and coach is under police investigation due to a former student’s allegations that she repeatedly was sexually assaulted by the man.
School and law enforcement authorities are now asking other former students to step forward if they believe criminal misdeeds were done to them by the suspect. The suspect was identified in the district’s Tuesday news release as Gary Blaschke, a 30-year veteran who worked at Burleigh Middle School in the early 1970s to the mid- 1980s and at Brookfield East High School from 1985 to 2002.
Blaschke is now 74, according to school district records. The student was a minor at the time of the alleged wrongdoing. “Because the person named by the former student was most recently a substitute teacher and worked at some athletic events in the district, we suspended his employment, disabled his network and email access and ordered him to remain off any school district property until further notice,” according to a news release from Superintendent Mark Hansen.
District spokesman Chris Thompson said late Tuesday that district and police investigations into the suspected assault and any unknown assaults on students were continuing. Thompson said no one else had stepped forward Tuesday, following issuance of information by the district. As of late Tuesday, Blaschke had not been charged by the Waukesha County District Attorney’s Office.
A district attorney’s office spokesman said police had yet to refer charging documents to prosecutors as of late Tuesday. The news release states that Elmbrook was informed of the allegations in an April 1 email from the former student. The woman claimed she was sexually assaulted in the 1980s.
Hansen said the district’s investigative findings show Blaschke’s actions were “extremely egregious violation of our standards, expectations and the bond of trust that we expect from all teachers and staff. It also may well be a serious criminal act.” Hansen said this was not the district’s “finest hour.” “Earlier this (Tuesday) morning, we sent information about this to nearly 35,000 people, including graduates we have in our alumni database and our current families, through our school district notification system,” Hansen wrote.
“We also briefed current district staff who work in buildings where Mr. Blaschke worked in the past in a series of special meetings this morning. “We encourage all the recipients to pass this information along to individuals we may have missed so we can determine if there are other victims.
We have no information indicating there were other incidents, but we have an obligation to ask and inquire to make sure we look at all possibilities. “We are asking that if anyone was harmed by Mr. Gary Blaschke’s terrible actions or if someone has additional information that will assist law enforcement and/or the school district in determining the full scope of Mr. Blaschke’s conduct, please contact me at 262-373-6606 or the Brookfield Police Department.”
Hansen apologized to the woman, saying the district had failed her. “These findings tarnish our district, and because we failed this student, we have to take responsibility for our former employee’s actions” the superintendent wrote. Hansen was adamant in the news release that Blaschke had sexually assaulted the woman based on a search of the district’s IT records and the damaging findings of an independent investigator hired by the school board during a closed session.
“We were able to retrieve what appear to be relevant documents, and we have shared those documents with the police department as well,” Hansen wrote. “The evidence available now shows that the facts are not in dispute. Our internal investigation and a review of old emails have resulted in preliminary findings that are crystal clear.
“I am sickened by these facts, and to the victim, I express our sincere apologies because our organization failed you. In addition to our internal investigation, on April 2, the School District of Elmbrook’s Board of Education met in executive session and directed the administration to conduct a thorough investigation through an independent investigator.
“The independent investigator immediately began his work and delivered a preliminary report to the Board of Education in executive session last night (Monday). The preliminary finding of the independent investigator confirms the victim’s allegation that Mr. Gary Blaschke sexually assaulted her repeatedly.
This is not in dispute. “As a lifelong educator, I was saddened and disgusted by what I read and was stunned that someone would use their position to perpetrate such terrible acts. We have communicated to the victim that she has our full support.
We commend her for her bravery in coming forward, and we can only imagine the courage and strength required to reach out and share this horrendous story.” Hansen wrote that the district “stands ready” to provide appropriate assistance she thinks would be helpful to support and assist in her recovery.
“Further, we will make counselors available to students and staff who want to talk with experts in this field, and we are prepared to share support resources with any alumni or others who may be impacted by this set of circumstances or other related behaviors.”