Stewart Thompson, a former Mauston teacher charged with sexual assault of a student, was in court May 2 to waive a preliminary hearing and plead not guilty.
Thompson, 25, also faces charges of child enticement-sexual contact and a charge for exposing a child to harmful material. Thompson, a former high school social studies teacher, allegedly engaged in a relationship with one of his students. He was arrested by the Juneau County Sheriff’s Office and charged in late January.
In court with lawyer Lester Pines, Thompson pleaded not guilty to all three charges. A pre-trial conference was set for June 14 at 9 a.m. in District Attorney Ken Hamm’s office and Thompson will have a plea hearing on July 5 at 12:45 p.m. at the Juneau County Justice Center.
Circuit Court Judge Paul Curran asked both Pines and Hamm, who is serving as the prosecutor, if they would rather have him step down from presiding the case. Curran explained he met Thompson and talked to him briefly at school functions prior to him being charged, but doesn’t know him well. The judge also said he knows the alleged victim and her parents, but has only had brief conversations with them in passing.
“We may have met casually in the past, but I don’t feel like that impedes my judgment in this hearing,” Curran said.
He also said Thompson was professional and courteous in the short interactions he had with him.
“That being said, that in no way affects my feelings in this case,” Curran said.
Hamm, Pines and Thompson didn’t have an objection to Curran presiding. Curran explained to Thompson the benefits of having a preliminary hearing; that charges may be reduced or dismissed, but the defendant signed a waiver to dismiss May 2.
During the plea hearing on July 5, Curran said the court will be looking for a plea from Thompson or decide whether to bring the case to trial.