By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Kelly Browne was on a stepladder, a paintbrush in her hand, when she heard someone knocking vigorously on her front door. She surveyed the fresh coat of paint she'd just brushed onto the bathroom trim and decided to ignore the knocking. At seven months pregnant, getting into this position was no small feat.
But when the rapping continued several minutes later, Browne finished up, washed her hands, and lumbered to the entryway. Through the etched glass she recognized the familiar face of Peter Rickmyer, the Level 3 sex offender who lived around the corner, in the Jordan neighborhood of north Minneapolis.
"I have a delivery for Mr. Browne," Rickmyer said.
Heart pounding, she told him to drop it between the door and the screen, then she watched him leave. She felt terrified.
"What would have happened if my eight-year-old stepdaughter had been home?" she says.
Rickmyer has a history of sex crimes against children. In 1989, he pleaded guilty in Oklahoma to a charge of indecent exposure for exposing his erect penis to young boys in a motel room. The same year in Minnesota, he was convicted of fifth-degree assault for spanking a young boy.
The next year, while running a program for children at Sylvan Park in Ramsey County, Rickmyer spanked an eight-year-old boy. He admitted that he did it for sexual gratification, and was convicted of one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. Three other counts were dropped as part of his plea bargain.
In October 1991, Ramsey County successfully petitioned for Rickmyer to be civilly committed as a psychopathic personality, locked up in perpetual sex offender treatment. But in 1994, the Minnesota Supreme Court overturned the decision, and Rickmyer was released.
In 2004, while working at the Golden Chicken at 2402 Penn Ave. N., Rickmyer rubbed the butt of a 15-year-old girl whom he supervised, according to court records. On several occasions, he ordered another 15-year-old to pull down her pants so that he could spank her naked bottom.
Rickmyer was convicted of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and sentenced to three years in prison; he served two years and was released on probation.
After re-entering the community in September 2006, Rickmyer began showing up at Jordan New Life Community Church, which runs a social-service program for children and adults. Cecile Johnson, the program navigator, told Rickmyer he couldn't be there. When Rickmyer refused to leave, Johnson called police.
Rickmyer responded by requesting a harassment restraining order against her—twice. A judge tossed out both cases, but that didn't discourage Rickmyer from using the legal system to strike back at his tormenters.
His complaint for Kelly's husband, Michael "Kip" Browne, involved two of Kip's fellow Jordan Area Community Council members—John "P.J." Hubbard and Vladimir Monroe. Rickmyer was upset that they'd visited him at his home that May 4, 2009 morning.
"Mr. Hubbard and another person came to my house and falsely accused me of representing myself as a member of public safety committee (whatever), when I asked them to leave they refused," he wrote in the hand-delivered letter.
The men had paid Rickmyer a visit because Minneapolis Police Sgt. Scott Olson had informed them that Rickmyer had been going around telling people he was on the council's public safety committee. Hubbard and Monroe told Rickmyer to stop.
When Rickmyer's complaint fell on deaf ears, he filed a petition for a restraining order against Hubbard for harassment. A few months later, he followed up with a complaint against Olson, claiming that the police officer had falsely accused him of misrepresenting himself.
"What is it that Mr. Hubbard did that you consider harassment?" Labine asked.
"Him and another person trespassed on my property without my permission," Rickmyer said.
"So what do you mean they trespassed on your property? What did they do?"
"They were banging on my door. My property—" Rickmyer explained.
"They came up to your door—just a second—they came up to your door and they knocked on your door?"
"Right, I—they were not invited. My property is posted with this sign that faces 25th Avenue—"
"All right, just a second. What else have they done that you consider to be harassment? Because I don't consider going up to a door and knocking on a door to be harassment. What else have they—"
"They were uninvited on my property."
The judge dismissed the case.
But Rickmyer continues to press his legal battle. The latest twist came last month, when he filed a rambling, 94-page accusation against the Jordan Area Community Council, the police inspector for the Fourth Precinct, and John Hoff, also known as Johnny Northside, who has been blogging about the saga.
Rickmyer alleges defamation, intentional interference with contracts, discrimination, harassment, loss of liberty, loss of free speech, and trespassing. However, it seems that Rickmyer is most upset that Johnny Northside has been writing about him.
"John Hoff is the spokesperson for Jordan Area Community Council and conspires with the same individuals to target people who stand up and voice opinions which differ from the JACC executive committee," Rickmyer says.
It's enough to make the neighbors throw up their hands in frustration.
"These lawsuits are being treated as if there's merit. That's the part that's incredibly frustrating," says Monroe.
The issue is particularly vexing to the neighbors because north Minneapolis has a high number of Level 3 sex offenders: 16 in the zip code that includes Jordan, eight more in the zip code just north.
"Not only are we being the involuntary hosts of this undesirable part of the community, but on top of that, in this case, we are the involuntary victims in another area of the law itself," says Councilmember Don Samuels. "And the good neighbors have to put up with all this. It's a burdensome task."