Pawlenty disregarded molester's disorderly conduct conviction to give daycare pardon

Jeremy Giefer won't leave his daughter alone.

Jeremy Giefer won't leave his daughter alone.

Jeremy Giefer was back in court this afternoon for violating the terms of his bail agreement by making contact with the daughter he is accused of molesting for the past seven years.

When Giefer's son, who lives with him, met last week for a family therapy session with his daughter, who is currently staying with a foster family, Giefer tagged along, and came within feet of the car where his daughter was sitting.

In fact, Blue Earth County Assistant Attorney Brian Rovney told the court, it wasn't the only time Giefer has tried to contact his alleged victim. His daughter's foster family had to buy her a new phone to put an end to the unwanted telephone calls. [jump]

"This girl is 16 years old, she has been serially abused, and she is in extreme danger," Rovney said.

For the moment, Giefer's daughter is safe from the man accused of raping her; her father is back in jail tonight with bond set at $1 million.

But other members of her family have been pressuring her to recant her accusations. "It is like she is on an island," Rovney said of the girl's isolation from her family. Rovney plans to bring charges against Giefer's wife, Susan, for aiding and abetting Giefer's violation of the terms of his release.

Giefer has been having trouble with boundaries all along: He complained to the judge last week about the trouble his court-ordered GPS system was causing him.

It's no wonder: Giefer's garage is immediately next door to his house, which in turn is immediately next door to his wife's childcare center.

Pawlenty's defenders have argued that there's no way the Board of Pardons could have known that Giefer was dangerous. In his letter to the board, Giefer presented himself as a devoted family man whose mistake was nothing more than meeting his wife-to-be when she was a bit too young.

But the board should have known Giefer wasn't all sweetness and light. For one thing, he'd pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct two years earlier for verbally assaulting the Vernon Center chief of police. The board was aware of the incident, because it was mentioned in the first paragraphs of the cover letter in his file.

Giefer first applied for his pardon earlier in 2008, but the board had denied his request because of the disorderly conduct conviction: "Because this matter was within the ten-year waiting period for the underlying offense, the matter was put before the Board for Waiver of the Waiting Period, which was denied."

Once they learned that the incident was treated as a petty misdemeanor and not a crime, the board decided it didn't restart the clock on the ten-year waiting period before Giefer could apply for a pardon, and they agreed to hear his request.

Giefer may have been eligible to ask for a pardon, but you'd like to think that when Pawlenty and the rest of the pardon board were considering the extraordinary step of erasing a man's criminal sexual conviction, the fact that he's still running into trouble with the law and picking fights with cops would have given them pause.

At the very least, it might have led the board to ask some more questions. After all, they're empowered by statute to summon anyone they want to answer any question they want.

If they had asked a few questions, they might have found out what everyone in Giefer's hometown already knew: that Giefer was one of the men at Pumpkinland Farm who had talked a police officer into handcuffing a drunk woman and threatening her with a citation unless she showed the men her breasts, which she did.

They might also have found out that Giefer's marriage to the girl he impregnated wasn't exactly as solid as he'd implied. He's paying child support to another woman who used to be a neighbor.

One man who did know the hometown scuttlebutt on Giefer's behavior was State Rep. Tony Cornish, a Vernon Center resident who represents the area in the Legislature.

"Sure, I knew about him and the Pumpkinland incident," Cornish told City Pages today. "And I knew he was applying for a pardon, too, because he was talking about that around town. But I didn't have anything to do with the pardon application. Nobody asked me to do anything for it and I didn't talk to anyone about it."

So if Cornish knew the convicted sex offender in his town was applying for a pardon mere months after involvement in a disturbing incident taking sexual advantage of a drunk woman, why didn't he contact the Pardon Board to speak against Giefer's pardon?

"I'm not an official part of that process," Cornish said. "I was never requested or asked. Nobody sent me any request for information."

Cornish is the incoming chairman of the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Committee.

Pawlenty's PardonGate

Sally Jo Sorensen contributed reporting for this post.