ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – For the first time, former Lindbergh coach Jim Wilder spoke openly to a reporter about his relationship with Emilie Morris, saying the ordeal has been a “living nightmare.” Morris accused Wilder of sexually assaulting her when she was a student in the 90s. He was her coach.
Charges were eventually filed against Wilder, but the case was dismissed when Morris died before a critical court hearing. After a recent documentary and a renewed interest in the case, Wilder is again in the spotlight.
“It’s been a real nightmare in general,” Wilder said, seemingly caught off guard when News 4’s Lauren Trager called earlier this week for his comment. “Oh God, I am shaking. I know, the problem is my side makes the story more juicy and then it’s a really great story. You know what I mean.”
Nearly two decades after the alleged abuse at school, Morris, working with police, secretly recorded Wilder.
“Even in your case, we did something that wasn't right, according to our laws. But you know I am not a creeper,” Wilder said then.
Wilder was charged, but before the case could go to court in 2014, Morris was found dead in her Ballwin apartment of asphyxiation, her head in a trash can. Police never determined if it was accidental or something more. Without a victim, formal charges against Wilder were dismissed.
The St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's Office on Monday confirmed additional people have come forward in a controversial local case.
“This has just been a living nightmare, they say no justice, well justice through the media is not justice,” Wilder told Trager. “I did not get due process either, the reason I never settled is because I wanted due process on this, because I did not do what I was alleged to do.”
“My part was not flattering,” Wilder said, shifting blame back on Morris. “I totally agree with that, but it was nothing close to what the allegations [claimed]. I was the pursued, not the pursuer.”
He claims the Oxygen documentary misreported a lot of the facts, but it prompted the creation of a Facebook page on which others have lobbed additional accusations at Wilder.
“There are no other victims. That's all bull,” Wilder said. “They are all trying to cause trouble for me or grief.”
In 2008, Wilder was arrested and accused of inappropriate behavior by a student, but he was never charged due to lack of evidence. That person is also coming forward again on Facebook now. Wilder discredits her, too.
“She accused six people of the same exact thing,” Wilder said.
He told News 4 he would consult an attorney and consider an on-camera interview but he never returned repeated follow-up calls and texts.
“It’s been years and years and years of this,” Wilder said. “If I had gone you know, murdered somebody, I would be out right now and all I did was try to be a mentor.”
Prosecutors are asking anyone with additional information, either about Morris' death or if they are a victim, to contact them or their local law enforcement office.
Morris Family Responds
Morris' sister Andrea and mother Joan voiced disappointment with Wilder’s words but say they're not surprised.
“It sounds like he is sort of justifying his behavior and blame it on a child, and that’s the scariest part about this is that this person is still in St. Louis, still thinks what he did isn’t wrong, apparently and is still trying to point fingers at someone who wasn’t old enough to consent,” Andrea Morris said. They still want Morris to get the day in court she deserved.
“I would rather see him in prison that see him apologize,” Andrea said.
The Morris’s are asking people to believe victims and believe Emilie’s story is helping others.
“I think she would be so thrilled and so proud of herself,” her mother said. “I am proud of her.”
Wilder's separation with Lindbergh School District
It's unclear where Wilder works now. The Lindbergh School District says wilder left the district in 2015.
He wasn't fired but can never step foot on a Lindbergh campus again, per a separation agreement reviewed by News 4. He was able to retain his teaching license and neither side admitted any wrongdoing.
More Accusations Made
The Oxygen Network's December 6 documentary titled “The Case Died With Her," and subsequent reporting, led to additional accusations.
“It really is just a tragedy,” said St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell.
Bell sat down with News 4 after the documentary aired and said his office would review any additional evidence about Morris’ death.
He also explained why his office, under the previous administration, dropped the charges against Wilder. “Without the alleged victim, it would be difficult to prove this case in a court of law,” he said.
Morris' friend Christine Lieber believes the case is far from over.
“Since the story broke on Sunday, my phone has not stopped,” Lieber said. “I am confident that with the other victims that came forward, we will get justice this time.”
A week ago, Lieber started a Facebook page, Emilie’s Page, that now has 2,500 members.
People are showing support and sorrow, but also sharing their own stories of alleged inappropriate behavior suffered at Lindbergh schools. Those additional accusations, Lieber says, are not just against Wilder but other district employees as well.
“Primarily women victims are coming forward and telling their stories and it’s the same names over and over,” she said.
Lieber shared a story of her own about a Lindbergh employee, when she was in high school.
“I remember him trying to kiss me and this man is 40 years older than me,” she said.
A spokesperson for the district sent News 4 a statement saying: "Any allegation of misconduct by a staff member is deeply troubling, and we take it very seriously.” You can read their full statement here.
Monday, Bell's office sent a statement to News 4, saying: "I can confirm that we have been contacted by some individuals in the wake of the Oxygen documentary and my appearance on KMOV. We place a high priority on seeing that allegations are investigated and reviewed for potential criminal charges."