Judge recuses himself from Starr case

Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo

Judge Kevin Elsenheimer


BELLAIRE – The 13th Circuit Court judge appointed to the case of a former Elk Rapids public school administrator charged with falsely reporting a felony has recused himself from the case.

In a court order dated Sept. 26 provided to The Review by court administrative clerk Teri Quinn, 13th Circuit Court Judge Kevin Elsenheimer stepped away from the job of presiding over the legal proceedings surrounding Terry Starr, who in April was charged with one felony count of falsely reporting a felony, one felony count of intentionally making a false report of child abuse, and slander. 

Starr is accused of anonymously sending two letters in January 2018, when he was employed by the Elk Rapids school district as principal of Cherryland Middle School, to several different Elk Rapids school administrators accusing Elk Rapids High School Principal Mike Travis of criminal sexual assault of a student in 2013.

Travis was exonerated of that charge after investigation by the Michigan State Police, which led to an MSP investigation regarding who may have written the two letters.

Starr is currently on an unpaid leave of absence from his post as superintendent of Kalkaska Public Schools, a position he accepted in the summer of 2018.

Starr was remanded over to Circuit Court, where he may stand trial, after a lengthy preliminary exam that concluded on Sept. 19.

In his Sept. 26 court order, Elsenheimer cited having a "personal relationship" with Starr. A resident of the Kewadin area for many years, Elsenheimer's children attended Elk Rapids schools. The Circuit Court judge did not respond personally to a request for comment. 

Fellow Circuit Court Judge Thomas G. Power has been reassigned to hear the case.

Starr served as principal of Lakeland Elementary and Cherryland Middle School (both in Elk Rapids) for 18 years, coming to northern Michigan in 2001 from teaching posts in the Midland area.

A pre-trial conference regarding the charges against Starr, which most likely will be done by video conference, has been re-scheduled several times and is now set for 8 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 21. He remains free on bond, which was continued following the Sept. 19 prelim exam.

No official trial date has been set at this time.


The Review


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