Clinton janitor won’t be arrested

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May 29, 2008
— Ron Torkilson said it will take the rest of his life to get over the pain of losing his job as a Clinton Elementary School janitor.

The Rock County Sheriff’s Office announced this morning Torkilson will not be arrested because an investigation yielded no probable cause that Torkilson, 57, showed pornography to students at his home, Lt. Todd Christiansen said.

“People have said, ‘I know what you’re going through,’” Torkilson said. “I thought, ‘You have no clue.’ I’m 57. It’s going to take the rest of my life to get through this. People will point and say, ‘Oh, that’s Ron Torkilson.’”

Torkilson, a member of the Clinton Village Board, was fired in March after a Clinton School District internal investigation that started when a teacher found an “inappropriate” note Torkilson left March 4 on the desk of a fourth-grade boy.

The Janesville Gazette could not reach District Administrator Pam Kiefert this morning for comment.

Torkilson was fired for violating school district rules, Kiefert previously said.

The school district March 6 turned the investigation over to Clinton police, who turned it over to the sheriff’s office.

Sheriff’s deputies used a search warrant March 21 to seize computers from the school and Torkilson’s home, 609 Milwaukee Road, Clinton.

The computers were seized because two fourth-grade boys in an interview with a child protective services worker said they had been to Torkilson’s house and had seen pornography on the computer, according to the search warrant affidavit.

Analysis of the computers at the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory revealed nothing illegal, authorities said earlier.

The boys disagreed about how long the pornography was shown on the computer. One said it was a half hour, but the other said it was only pop-up ads.

In multiple interviews, Torkilson told investigators that the pornography was only ads and that he closed them to prevent the boys from seeing, Christiansen said.

Since Torkilson’s statement “matched that of the boys’” there was no probable cause for arrest, Christiansen said.

The boys did not say they were sexually abused or inappropriately touched.

Notes of the school district’s internal investigation include interviews between Torkilson and various school administrators as well as several notes written by teachers concerned about Torkilson’s relationship with students.

The Gazette obtained the records through the Wisconsin Open Records law.

Torkilson told the Gazette this morning he was not aware that “several” teachers had written critical letters about him to administration.

“I was completely baffled from the start of it,” Torkilson said. “I kind of wish if they felt that way, they’d have come to me.”

District records and the search warrant affidavit state Torkilson gave candy to children, allowed them into his work space, took one child to lunch, used inappropriate language with children and let children into the school when it was closed for a school day.

Torkilson told the Gazette he would “like very much” to get his job back as a janitor, but that he would no longer feel comfortable working with some of the staff members.

He has applied for a new job, but declined to say where. The potential new employer said it would wait until the investigation was complete before hiring him, Torkilson said.

Torkilson said the district was wrong in firing him and that talking could have cleared things up.

“In my eyes,” Torkilson said. “I wasn’t doing anything wrong.”

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