A nine-term Minnesota state representative has abruptly dropped his re-election campaign after being accused of serial sexual abuse by his own daughter.
Rep, Jim Knoblach (R-St. Cloud) denied the “indescribably hurtful” allegations and called his daughter a liar but ended his campaign anyway, saying that he did not want to put his family through “six weeks of hell.”
“I love my children more than anything, and would never do anything to hurt them. Her allegations are false. I and other family members have made repeated attempts to reconcile with her in recent years, but she has refused.”
His daughter Laura alleges that he touched her inappropriately throughout her life, beginning when she was just nine years old, coming into her room after she’d gone to sleep and lying down behind her.
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“He would put his arm around me and not let me get up or get away and he would lick my neck or bite my ear.”
These visits to her room, or similar kissing across her arms and neck and biting her ears while they watched movies on the couch, happened so often throughout her childhood and teenage years it became a defining part of her relationship with her father, she said.
There were other routine behaviors, she said, including more than 30 instances where her father approached her from behind and pressed his body against hers in the kitchen of their home, pinning her against the refrigerator or dishwasher and using his weight and strength to keep her from getting away.
…Laura Knoblach said the inappropriate behavior continued from ages 9 to 21, including an incident in 2015, when she was 20, where she said her father pinned her against a car and licked and kissed her neck.
Police investigated her allegations in 2017 but decided to not bring any charges, stating that the behavior didn’t fall under any of “the five degrees of criminal sexual conduct” that would force them to take action.
With no further recourse, Laura took her allegations public. MPR interviews with Laura’s childhood friends and pastor revealed a timeline of Laura confiding to others about her father’s inappropriate behavior. The pastor even called Child Protective Services, who said that the charges didn’t “seem serious enough” to warrant any action.
The folding of his campaign so close to the midterm elections means the highly coveted seat is almost a guaranteed win for Democratic challenger Dan Wolgamott.
The inability of law enforcement or other public services to help Laura seek justice and protection from her predatory father is an important lesson in how sexual abuse cases are rarely cut and dry, and how what at first glance appear to be minor infractions can be very serious violations that leave deeply traumatizing effects on the victim.
Original reporting by Nina Moini and Briana Bierschbach at MPR News.