Superintendent candidate won’t be charged, but wife faces misdemeanor

By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports

Branden Durst, 2022 candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction

Branden Durst, candidate for state superintendent of public instruction, will not be criminally charged for accusations made regarding child abuse allegations.

The Ada County Prosecutor’s Office did, however, charge Durst’s wife with misdemeanor injury to child after law enforcement routed them the report for consideration, according to prosecutor’s spokesperson Emily Lowe.

Cheri Durst, the wife of Branden Durst, was criminally charged on Feb. 22  in connection to the abuse alleged to have happened in Ada County. She entered a not guilty plea on March 1.

Idaho Reports called and emailed Branden Durst on Tuesday for comment but did not receive a response. 

In the criminal complaint, prosecutors say on Dec. 24, 2021, Cheri Durst “did willfully cause or permit the person or health of the child to be injured” by striking the child with a wooden spoon.

The allegations initially became public when Durst’s ex-wife, Jaime Charles, said Cheri Durst struck a 14-year-old child. In the document filed in Thurston County Superior Court in Washington state, Charles said Branden Durst “not only watched and did nothing to stop it, but he actively encouraged his wife to beat (the child).” 

On March 2, Thurston County, Washington, court commissioner Rebekah Zinn extended the temporary protection order in place against the Dursts through March 16. 

The extended order said neither Cheri nor Branden Durst could initiate contact with the children.

Cheri Durst’s next court appearance is scheduled for 8:45 a.m. March 29 in Ada County.

Branden Durst is challenging incumbent Superintendent Sherri Ybarra for her seat in the May Republican primary. As of Tuesday, Durst, Ybarra and Debbie Critchfield filed for that race. The filing period is open through March 11.

The superintendent of public instruction oversees the education of Idaho public school students in kindergarten through 12th grade.


<strong>Ruth Brown</strong> | Producer
Ruth Brown | Producer

Ruth Brown grew up in South Dakota and her first job out of college was covering the South Dakota Legislature. She’s since moved on to Idaho lawmakers. Brown spent 10 years working in print journalism, including newspapers such as the Idaho Statesman and Idaho Press, where she’s covered everything from the correctional system to health care issues. She joined Idaho Reports in 2021 and looks forward to telling stories about how state policy can impact the lives of regular Idahoans.

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