Molester Daycare: Why did Pawlenty wait 13 days to shut it down?
It took 13 days after Jeremy Giefer's arrest for allegedly molesting his daughter for Pawlenty's administration to finally get around to shutting down his wife's childcare center.
The Pawlenty administration knew on November 17th that Jeremy Giefer was charged with raping his young daughter hundreds of times over the last seven years, and that his wife Susan was operating a childcare center next door.
But it let the Giefers' childcare center stay open for another two weeks. It wasn't until Tuesday, November 30--when City Pages started asking questions about the still-open daycare center--that the Department of Human Services finally ordered it closed.
Giefer, remember, had his previous record as a sex offender cleared by the state Board of Pardons -- a three member panel chaired by Pawlenty that also included Attorney General Lori Swanson and then-Chief Justice Eric Magnuson. All three voted to give Giefer his pardon, but it is Pawlenty, thought to be eyeing a presidential run as a tough-on-crime candidate, who has taken most of the heat for the decision.
According to the Nov. 30 letter from the state Department of Human Services, the agency was notified on November 17 that the Blue Earth County Sheriff's Department had opened an investigation that involved child protection issues.
The day before, November 16, Giefer's daughter had told a mandated reporter at her school about her father's ongoing sexual abuse. She was taken to the Sheriff's department, where she told a detective her horrifying story of being regularly raped in her own home.
All the while, in the building next door, her mother Susan was working at the family daycare business, licensed by the state to serve as many as 12 children.
Jeremy Giefer was interviewed and then arrested November 18. He posted bail November 24. For the next seven days, the child care center was open and Giefer was free.
Giefer's judge ordered him to stay away from the child care center, but it sounds like that wasn't easy. He told the court on Monday that his court-ordered GPS device was causing problems because the garage he runs with his wife is too close to his home and the child care center. In fact, they're all right next door to each other.
Pawlenty's administration was warned about the daycare center on November 17, but didn't close it until November 30.
Finally, November 30, two weeks after it was first warned about the Giefers operating a daycare, the Department of Human Services sent Susan a letter ordering her to close:
"Due to the serious nature of the report under investigation, Blue Earth County Human Services cannot ensure the safety of the persons served in your program. The Commissioner of the Department of Human Services finds that the health, safety and rights of children in your care are in imminent risk of harm. Therefore, the Commissioner is immediately suspending your license to provide Family Child Care."
But if the safety of the kids in the childcare center was "at imminent risk," why did Human Services wait 13 days to shut it down?
Here's agency spokesman Jon Siess's cryptic answer to City Pages:
"On November 30, 2010, as soon as information was received that met the standard under Minnesota Statutes to issue the sanction, the sanction was issued. The Minnesota Department of Human Services must have specific articulable facts and circumstances that provide the department with a reasonable suspicion that there is an imminent risk of harm."
What did the administration need beyond the notice of the sheriff's investigation from two weeks prior, in which Jeremy Giefer's daughter described in graphic detail her repeated rapes by her father?
State law requires background checks on anyone over 13 in the residence where the daycare services are to be provided.
After all, it should have been clear by then that the daycare center next door was a way to get around the background check mandated for daycare providers and anyone living in the house where the daycare is being provided. And as Jeremy Giefer told the Board of Pardons himself in 2008, he wanted the pardon so that the kids could be even closer: in his own home.
Jeremy Giefer told Pawlenty and the rest of the pardon board that he wanted his sex offender status wiped clean so he could have kids in his home daycare and they gave him the go-ahead.
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