Lawmaker Quits Election After Daughter's Claims

Republican Jim Knoblach is accused of touching her inappropriately for years
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2018 10:45 AM CDT
Lawmaker Quits Election Amid Shocking Claims
In this Jan. 30, 2003 file photo Republican state Rep. Jim Knoblach attends a meeting in the State Office Building in St. Paul, Minn.   (Joaquin Siopack/St. Cloud Times via AP, File)

A Minnesota legislator ended his reelection bid Friday amid accusations he's been inappropriately touching his daughter for years. Republican state Rep. Jim Knoblach denies allegations by his daughter, Laura Knoblach, but MPR News reveals efforts in recent years to both probe and conceal the eight-term representative's alleged behavior. Laura, 23, says her 60-year-old father has touched, kissed, licked, bitten, and pinned her down dozens of times for over a decade, starting when she was nine. Yet a 2017 criminal investigation didn't lead to charges because Knoblach hadn't exposed himself or touched her beneath clothing. "I don't think there's much of a doubt in my mind that [Knoblach] knew what he was doing," says a police officer in St. Cloud, Minn., per the case file. "And that he knew what he was doing was wrong."

Laura also apparently told friends, family, a youth pastor, and a teacher at her St. Cloud Christian school, with no result. Per the case file, her grandmother emailed Laura to keep quiet about accusations that could damage Knoblach's career and the community: "But you, yourself, will be the greatest loser in the long term," she writes. "You will lose your family." Later disowned by her mother for instigating the police probe, Laura says she considered self-harm and entered a psychiatric facility for two nights. Finally, she went to the press: "Nobody likes whistleblowers," she tells MPR News. "There's still going to be a lot of people who will say, 'Oh, so now dads can't hug their daughters anymore?'" Indeed, Knoblach's lawyer tells the Washington Post that Laura has "exaggerated" his "displays of physical affection." (Read more sexual assault stories.)

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