Juvenile corrections superintendent fined in battery incident

Kyle Rohr (Source: Dept. of Corrections)
Kyle Rohr (Source: Dept. of Corrections)(WIBW)
Published: Jul. 19, 2018 at 7:19 PM CDT
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Following a short trial, the superintendent of the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex was convicted Thursday of misdemeanor battery of a co-worker.

But moments after Kyle Rohr was convicted, his defense attorney told Topeka Municipal Court Judge John Knoll that Rohr would appeal the conviction to Shawnee County District Court.

“I find there is sufficient proof of battery,” the judge said when he convicted Rohr.

Knoll fined Rohr $150 and ordered him to pay court costs of $153, all due by September 30th. A misdemeanor battery conviction can be expunged after three years, the judge said.

Rohr declined to comment following the roughly three-hour trial.

Lemon said Rohr’s appeal would be filed by the middle of next week.

During the defense part of the case, Rohr didn’t take the witness stand.

The first witness to testify was Michelle Valdivia, the victim and an accountant at the KJCC.

Witnesses testified that stress was running high at the KJCC on Dec. 21 because staff members hadn’t volunteered to man the games for the Christmas celebration that day for juvenile residents.

Rohr, Valdivia and a committee of others were to run games, an obstacle course, a cake walk, a word search and other activities. But volunteers hadn’t materialized.

Valdivia sent out an e-mail seeking people to help, but they remained short of volunteers, Valdivia said. About 8:15 a.m. that day, Rohr asked Valdivia where the volunteers were, and she responded no volunteers were there.

“He blew up,” Valdivia said. “He started yelling.” Valdivia began to cry. She went to her work cubicle, and Rohr continued yelling and started cussing.

“I don’t (epithet) want to do this,” Valdivia quoted Rohr as saying when she was questioned by assistant city attorney Karan Thadani.

Valdivia was facing away from Rohr when he grabbed her upper left arm, she jerked away from him, he grabbed it a second time, and again she jerked away, she said.

Valdivia felt “scared, intimidated,” she testified.

Lemon, Rohr’s attorney, questioned Valdivia about the severity of contact Rohr had with Valdivia’s arm.

“He did not touch me,” Valdivia said. “He grabbed me.”

Was the grab mild, medium or more? Lemon asked.

“It was inappropriate, “ Valdivia said.

Janet Kelly, a KJCC employee, was about 10 feet away from Valdivia and Rohr when she saw Rohr grab Valdivia’s arm.

“I was in shock,” Kelly said. “It was a man grabbing a woman, and (it was) an employer grabbing an employee.”

Topeka police Detective Kerry Iams investigated the case and issued a citation to Rohr for battery because she thought “there was probable cause that a battery occurred.”

Rohr’s status on Thursday with the Kansas Department of Correction following the conviction is uncertain. Since 2012, Rohr has been the superintendent at the juvenile facility in Topeka.