Ahead of next week’s Iowa straw poll, Republican presidential nominee Tim Pawlenty’s camp is worried about his pardon of a convicted sex offender who was later arrested again for criminal sexual conduct with his own daughter.
As governor, Pawlenty approved in 2008, along with two others on the Minnesota Board of Pardons, a pardon of Jeremy A. Giefer for his 1994 conviction of having sex with a 14-year-old girl when he was 19.
Social conservatives in Iowa could be particularly concerned about the pardon of Giefer for having sex with the underage girl, who became pregnant. Giefer later married her.
Last November, he was charged with sexually assaulting the daughter who resulted from that pregnancy, both before and after his pardon. The sexual intercourse allegedly included at least 250 encounters that began when she was 9 and continued until she was 16.
Giefer was arrested after his daughter told a school counselor that Giefer had sexually assaulted her numerous times. Giefer’s daughter told police he would not let her see friends unless she had sex with him. On one occasion, he grabbed her by the arm and forced her to have sex with him in her bedroom, she alleged. On other occasions, she tried to avoid sex with him by locking herself in the bathroom.
Ironically, in his application for a pardon, Giefer had said his wife Susan wanted to operate a day care center next to their home and could not obtain a license to do so because of her husband’s prior conviction.
After Giefer’s arrest, Pawlenty said, “Had this new information been available to the board at the time of the pardon request, the pardon should not and would not have been granted.”
Pawlenty asked local prosecutors to consider charging Giefer, 37, with perjury if he lied when he stated on his application for a pardon that he has been law abiding.
Asked if Pawlenty had any comment beyond his statement last November, his spokesman Alex Conant did not respond.
Pawlenty's fellow pardon board members, Attorney General Lori Swanson and then-Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson, voted unanimously to grant the pardon.
Pawlenty and the other board members could not have known of Giefer’s alleged actions with his daughter. But in 2003, Giefer was charged with malicious punishment of a child and domestic assault for hitting his 7-year-old son with an open fist in the face, leaving marks visible the next day.
Prosecutors dropped the criminal case after Giefer completed a diversion program, which normally requires community service. Prosecutors told the board they did not oppose the pardon.
The board conducts a background investigation that presumably uncovered the public record of the charges against him at the Blue Earth County Court. In addition, Giefer was convicted in 2003 for disorderly conduct. A report to the pardons board said the offense was “an exchange of words” between Giefer and a police officer. It was listed as a petty misdemeanor and resulted in a $124 fine.
Under the board’s rules, the conviction did not automatically disqualify Giefer from a pardon, because it occurred after a waiting period since completion of his probation for the 1994 conviction.
The pardon board gave Giefer a pardon but did not expunge it from offender records. He served 45 days in jail for the first offense.
While Giefer denied any wrongdoing, he told police after his arrest that on a few occasions, his contact with his daughter could have been characterized as inappropriate. Giefer’s attorney, Robert Docherty, has said his client says he has done nothing wrong and will be found innocent.
Dozens of stories have appeared in Minnesota about the pardon, but no national print media have picked up the story. A local Associated Press story reported that with the exception of Giefer, none of the 115 other people pardoned during Pawlenty's two terms as governor were later charged with felonies or gross misdemeanors in Minnesota.
.After Giefer was arrested last November, he was ordered to have no direct or indirect contact with the victim and to stay 100 yards from her. But Giefer, who owns a towing and auto service business in Vernon Center, Minn. was arrested again and his bail was increased after he got too close to his daughter.
Docherty said Giefer didn’t know his daughter was in a car that was parked at a Mankato office building where she was scheduled to be on Dec. 2. She is now in the custody of foster parents, who said Giefer ignored them when they warned him to stay away from her, according to prosecutors.
In addition, Chris Rovney, assistant Blue Earth County attorney, told District Court Judge Bradley Walker about what he believes is a second violation of the no-contact order. While in jail and talking to his wife on the telephone on Dec. 18, Giefer told her to tell his daughter that he loved her. The request was recorded by the jail’s audio surveillance system.
Rovney said Giefer’s message, even though it could sound harmless to some, was an attempt to regain control over his victim.
Because of the pardon, Giefer’s previous conviction cannot be considered as part of the proceedings against him for the alleged molestation of his daughter.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is a New York Times best-selling author of books on the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA. His latest, "The Secrets of the FBI," has just been published. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via email. Go Here Now.
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