Jeremy Giefer could be Tim Pawlenty's Willie Horton

Jeremy Giefer, once pardoned by the Governor, now faces 11 charges of criminal sexual conduct

Jeremy Giefer, once pardoned by the Governor, now faces 11 charges of criminal sexual conduct

When Jeremy Geifer was charged with 11 counts of sexual misconduct November 18th, Tim Pawlenty might have envisioned his presidential ambitions going up in smoke.

Just over three years ago, the Minnesota governor granted Giefer a pardon extraordinary, voting with the two other members of the Board of Pardons to wipe clean his previous criminal sexual record.


In 1993, Giefer, then 19 years old, had fathered a daughter with his girlfriend, who was only 14 years old at the time of conception. He pleaded guilty to statutory rape, but claimed to the Star Tribune that he was being unfairly singled out for sticking around and supporting his girlfriend when other men would have bolted.

Giefer served 45 days in jail for the transgression, and 15 years later asked for a pardon extraordinary, the term for a pardon granted to someone who has already served the sentence for the crime they committed. With a pardon extraordinary, Giefer would no longer have to report his conviction, except in special circumstances.

Pawlenty and the board granted the Giefer's request, citing the fact that Giefer was still married to the woman he had statutorily raped, and was raising their children together.

It's an odd rationale--that statutory rape is more acceptable if you marry your victim--but Pawlenty bought it hook, line and sinker and pardoned the sex offender.

Flash forward to this month, when Giefer was charged with another sex crime, this time for allegedly molesting the daughter he conceived with the underage girl he statutory raped and married.

In fact, the complaint alleges, Giefer had been raping his daughter for about six years when Pawlenty granted him his extraordinary pardon.

According to the complaint filed in Blue Earth County Court, the girl, identified only as C.G.,  told Blue Earth detectives the sexual abuse started when she was nine years old.

"C.G. stated that when she was 13 years old, she wanted to go somewhere; and her dad would tell her to do a sexual favor consisting of a blow job or intercourse and then she would be allowed to go."
Geifer's daughter went into explicit detail with the detectives, painting a vivid picture of routine abuse.
"C.G. stated that when she gives her father a blow job, he doesn't ejaculate but finishes in a towel. She also indicated that Giefer would come into her room when she was sleeping and he would come into her room and have intercourse with her. He also does not use a condom. C.G. stated that Giefer put her on birth control when she was 15 years old."
Most of the abuse happens after her mother and brother leave early in the morning, a time she dreads, according to the victim.

Jeremy Giefer was one of 24 criminals pardoned by Tim Pawlenty in 2008.

Jeremy Giefer was one of 24 criminals pardoned by Tim Pawlenty in 2008.

"When Giefer comes into her room, she sees him and she just closes her eyes because she cannot do anything to stop him.... sometimes she tries to get away from Giefer and locks herself in the bathroom. C.G. stated that one time he grabbed her by the arm in the corner of her room and forced her to the ground and had intercourse with her."
Faced with the allegations, Giefer at first denied them outright, saying. "I'm not that type.... I was charged 18 years ago and am not that kind of person."

But the denials quickly turned to prevarications. Yes, Giefer told a detective, he had put his daughter on birth control pills. Yes, he had grabbed her breasts, but "it was just messing around." Yes, he had exposed his penis to her, but it was "accidental." And yes, while on top of his daughter in her bed while "wrestling," he had kissed her neck and stuck his hand inside her shorts and touched her bare vagina.

Giefer was arrested and charged and his bail was initially set at $1 million dollars, though it was dropped to $250,000 after he agreed to have no contact with his daughter and wear an ankle bracelet.

The whole story sounds like a living nightmare for Giefer's daughter. But it could also be one for Pawlenty, who has been exploring a presidential campaign as a tough-on-crime conservative.

As governor, Pawlenty positioned himself as especially tough on sex crimes, advocating for a doubling of sex-offender prison terms and presiding over a dramatic increase in incarcerated sex-offenders. A year ago, the governor was grandstanding over the question of whether jailed sex offenders should have televisions.

Asked for comment yesterday, Pawlenty spokesman Bruce Gordon emailed this statement to City Pages:

"The Governor has consistently opposed pardons for sex offenders and believes sex offenses are heinous. However, the Board made an exception in this case and voted unanimously to pardon this 1994 conviction because it involved sexual conduct between two people who became husband and wife, maintained a long-term marriage, had a family together, and because the defendant completed his sentence many years before seeking the pardon which his wife and others supported."
Maybe that argument will put the issue to rest and Tim Pawlenty won't keep hearing it in the echo chamber as he runs for President of the United States, but somehow we doubt this is the last we'll hear of it. As Mike Dukakis learned 22 years ago in the infamous Willie Horton case, being soft on criminals can be poison for a governor's presidential ambitions.

Hat-Tip: Bluestem Prairie

Pawlenty's PardonGate