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Lawsuit against city of Mayville moves forward with depositions

February 8, 2019
Boelk

A former Mayville police officer was investigated for a relationship with a teenage girl before he resigned, according to court documents filed in a lawsuit.

Former police officer Mark Forster is suing Ryan Vossekuil, the former police chief, and the city itself, claiming they violated a confidentiality agreement Forster signed when he resigned from his position in 2016.

According to documents filed in the lawsuit, Vossekuil investigated Forster over allegations that he exchanged Facebook messages with a 17-year-old girl and hung out with her at a city park in his squad car at late hours while on duty.

Depositions with parties in the case were conducted in the fall and filed Tuesday.

Forster’s lawsuit is centered around a letter Vossekuil wrote that said he was assigned to investigate “alleged misconduct” on the part of Forster in August 2016. Vossekuil was in the middle of negotiations to become the police chief and wrote that he was concerned about Rachel Forster, who is Mark Forster’s wife and served on the Common Council, being involved in the negotiations.

He sent the letter about the investigation to Mayor Rob Boelk, City Clerk Sara Decker, Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt, and his lawyer. In his deposition, Vossekuil said that he actually had two drafts of the letter and may have sent one of them only to his lawyer or Schmidt.

Forster claims the letter being sent to Schmidt, who is not a city of Mayville employee, violated his confidentiality agreement. In his deposition, Vossekuil said that he sent the letter to Schmidt as a senior law enforcement officer in the area who had given him advice in the past.

In an affidavit, Schmidt said he already knew about Vossekuil’s investigation of Forster because Forster had applied for a job in the sheriff’s department and Forster allowed the department to review his job file. In his deposition, Forster said he did not believe he knew he was under investigation when he first applied for the position.

Forster invoked the Fifth Amendment during his deposition when he was asked about his alleged misconduct and about whether he knew there might be a criminal investigation against him. The Fifth Amendment states that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”

In his deposition, Vossekuil connected the Forster case to the case of Chris MacNeill, another former police chief. Following an investigation in 2017, MacNeill pleaded guilty to charges related to illegally altering a police report to help an officer’s son get into the military.

Watertown Police investigated MacNeill’s case. Vossekuil told Watertown investigators about the Forster allegations, saying two officers were complaining to each other about MacNeill’s treatment of Forster, which eventually led to the MacNeill investigation.

Forster is also claiming that Vossekuil telling Watertown police about the allegations violated the agreement, while the defendants argue that the Watertown police were acting on behalf of the city.

In his deposition, Mayor Rob Boelk said that he believed that Vossekuil sending the letter did violate the confidentiality agreement, which he was not involved in drafting, but that it would need to be proven in court.

Forster is also suing EMC, the city’s insurer. No deposition with Schmidt was filed. All parties are now seeking summary judgment from a judge. Judge Martin De Vries is currently presiding over the case.

The confidentiality agreement calls for Forster to get his old job, pay and benefits back if it were broken. In his deposition, he said that he works Prairie Ridge Assisted Living in Beaver Dam and performs other responsibilities for Mike Eisenga, the owner of Prairie Ridge.

Another hearing in the Forster case has not yet been scheduled.

Vossekuil is now the police chief in Jackson. Both he and Boelk said in their depositions that they had a poor working relationship.

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