Press "Enter" to skip to content

Lunzman Defends Self from Political Blowback of Kaiser Lawsuit

Aberdeen city councilman Dave Lunzman is putting “news” in mocking quote marks to insulate himself from the political impact of an Aberdeen jury’s $1.2-million award to his former Division of Criminal Investigation colleague Laura Zylstra Kaiser for civil rights violations stemming from sexual harassment that she suffered and reported in 2011 (and that former Brown County deputy Ross Erickson admitted last week that he perpetrated). As I have reported previously, Kaiser brought her lawsuit against current DCI chief Bryan Gortmaker and former agent Mark Black, not Lunzman. However, Kaiser’s complaint alleged that Lunzman participated in a secret meeting with Black and other drug task force law enforcement officers who conspired “to formulate a set of talking points in an effort to have [Kaiser] removed from the department or be fired.”

Rightly concerned that being associated with this verdict against his former employer and fellow cops could hurt him politically, Lunzman took to Facebook last night to condemn sexual harassment and the media for suggesting he did:

Dave Lunzman, not speaking up about sexual harassment.
Dave Lunzman, speaking up more about himself than about victims of sexual harassment.

Dear Friends,

In the wake of the recent law suit involving Laura Zylstra-Kaiser, I would like to address all of the issues in great detail, although at this time I am not able to since I have not been informed if the results can or will be appealed. With that in mind, my name has been associated with the case in numerous fashions, some true, some not. First and foremost, I was a witness called by both the plaintiff and the defendant. I was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Since there have been too many half-truths, part truths and lack of any truth at all; I felt I should at least clear some things up. It has been amazing to see how misinformation and the lack of information have spread like a contagious disease.

In no way do I condone sexual harassment. With this case, I did not participate, observe or cover-up sexual harassment in any way. Although most of the “news” and opinions put out there, centered the case around sexual harassment, it truly was much more. As with most law suits, the issues become convoluted from many directions, such as how the news spins the information, how the judge rules on pretrial motions on what can and cannot be said during testimony. In some cases it can be what the jurors are allowed to hear and/or what they interpret during the trial.

Although this case has interesting elements to it, some very simple and others, very complicated or convoluted due to many different issues. There are some people out there writing their opinions or blogs about what they think may have happened or twisting their own agenda with little to no facts. In today’s electronic world it is easy to pass judgement or cast uninformed opinions quickly without thought. To those who truly know me and have supported me, do me a favor and remember there is always more to the story. I would like to invite those who have questions to please contact me either through my Facebook page or my email, I would be happy to try to answer your questions.

Thank you for your time and support,

Dave Lunzman [public Facebook post, Dave Lunzman for City Council Facebook page, 2017.12.17]

Lunzman newsworthily mentions that the defendants whom Kaiser beat may indeed tie up her award with an appeal. But otherwise, he doesn’t really add much to the known facts of the case that the jury found warranted punishing Gortmaker and Black for punishing a woman who dared speak up about sexual harassment committed by a fellow cop. He just throws up legalese and a Trumpian fog of anger at the press for laying out the facts.

But at least Lunzman says he’ll answer questions from the public. I suspect Commissioner Lunzman’s inbox will be filling up this morning.


  1. Rorschach 2017-12-18 08:43

    He used a whole lot of words to say nothing at all.

  2. Anne 2017-12-18 11:42

    The press accounts I have seen were reports on sworn testimony and lawyers’ statements. If there is more to this trial than the sexual harassment allegations, it is the revelation of the toxic work environment of the DCI. Its problems do get revealed in court transcripts.

  3. Rorschach 2017-12-18 13:44

    Conspicuously absent from Lunzman’s long statement is any denial that he conspired with others to brainstorm ways to drum out Ms. Kaiser. When you are accused of something and you make a statement but don’t deny the accusation, what are people to think?

  4. Ben Cerwinkse 2017-12-18 15:56

    Rorschach’s point raises a question I’ve been confused about. Common sense would suggest that if you’re accused of something that isn’t true you should deny it. However, I’ve been made aware that by doing so you can open yourself up to a defamation lawsuit. To be fair to Mr. Lunzman, is that a possible reason for the lack of denial?

  5. Rorschach 2017-12-18 16:31

    One could open himself up to a defamation suit by calling your accuser a liar, not by simply denying an allegation.

  6. Ryan 2017-12-18 16:46

    I think the thought process on falsely denying truthful allegations not being considered defamation is similar to a criminal defendant who committed a crime not being charged with perjury for saying under oath that he’s innocent.

    We expect a person to deny guilt more often than not, so the denial of an accusation isn’t something strong enough to create the actual harm for the accuser that is required for a successful claim of slander, libel, or defamation.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-12-18 22:02

    Ben, I’m not convinced defamation is involved. Such risk would put defendants at a disadvantage in the courts, as the simple act of pleading “not guilty” would invite additional defamation charges if the jury ruled “guilty”. That seems an unfair burden to place on the accused’s right to due process.

    Ror is right about Lunzman’s language. He says he writes to “clear some things up,” After his one sentence of direct denial, he starts blowing smoke. Without giving details, he implies that the jury reached the wrong verdict because it didn’t hear the whole story. He is smarter than Erickson and Kim Dorsett: he won’t come right out and lie about LZK or call her a “cancer.” But he does sound like Trump with the press: if the jury says things you don’t like, discredit the jury, cast doubt on their ability to reach an objective conclusion, and give your supporters an excuse to keep believing you over our civic institutions.

  8. Dana P 2017-12-19 08:17

    I’ve read Lunzman’s statement 2-3 times, and what a roller coaster ride it is! “I think sexual harassment is bad, but you know, things get convoluted and you just can’t trust the system and this case is interesting, but I didn’t witness nor participate in a darn thing….blah blah blah”

    If you are saying something is “bad” and then you continue with the “yeah but” statements, you’ve already lost. Mr Lunzman either shouldn’t have made a statement at all (after reading his statement, not making a statement would have been a much better choice for him), or, if he decided to wade into these waters, just say that sexual harassment is bad and we as a country need to do better. Mr Lunzman’s statement sure makes one scratch their heads and come to the conclusion that there is much more going on here.

    And it sure matches up to the deputies comments “yeah, I talked about her butt and things, but hey, it was taken out of context”. These are the kinds of attitudes that gives tacit approval to sexual harassment occurring in the first place AND adds to the problem why it is never addressed and makes victims afraid or unmotivated to come forward.

  9. Ben Cerwinkse 2017-12-19 11:35

    Thanks everyone :-).

Comments are closed.