William Wanner sex assault charges dismissed by Hennepin County
The case "never should have been brought in the first place," Wanner's attorney said.
Fox 9 screengrab
Nearly three years after William Wanner was charged with two felonies for allegedly molesting a 10-year-old girl in a Minneapolis Club hot tub, the Hennepin County Attorney's office decided to dismissed the case.
In December of 2009, a witness came forward to say they saw Wanner touch the girl's groin while they were both in the hottub, and surveillance video appeared to show a second similar incident happen with the same girl later that same month. The alleged victim -- her mom is a business partner of Wanner's -- cooperated with law enforcement for a period, but later quit, leaving Hennepin County prosecutors without enough admissible evidence to bring the case to trial. Charges were dropped early this month.
Wanner is the CEO of Wanner Engineering in Hopkins.
News of the dismissal prompted a strongly-worded statement from Joseph Friedberg, the attorney representing Wanner. Here's an excerpt:
The bottom line is that the State's entire case appeared to rest on a later interviews the minor had with a police officer. An officer who was on his own private crusade to discredit the minor's story that nothing untoward had occurred at the Minneapolis Club.
Five judges have listened to and looked at the tapes and determined they were so coercive and overbearing that they were unworthy of belief to the point that they would mislead the jury if received into evidence. This was, sadly, the evidence the State relied upon to relentlessly hound Mr. Wanner for more than three years.
Prosecutors enjoy tremendous power in our system. They are charged with the responsibility of prosecuting criminals and equally important-doing justice.
Sadly, in the case Mr. Freeman failed miserably on both counts.
The question remains: where does Mr. Wanner now go to get back his good name?
Hennepin County Attorney's office spokesman Chuck Laszewski conceded toFox 9 that "Justice required us to dismiss this case and we did that." But he couldn't resist the temptation to take a little jab at Friedberg.
"Did Mr. Friedberg really want to put this little girl through this?" Laszewski added, presumably speaking of a trial where the now 13-year-old would be grilled about what happened in that hot tub nearly three years ago.
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