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December 5, 2008

Minnesota predicts $5.28 billion deficit over next two years

Minnesota faces a $5.28 billion budget deficit over the next 2 1/2 years, reported the Pioneer Press on Friday.
The Pioneer Press reported state finance experts on Thursday forecast a $4.85 billion shortfall for the next two-year state budget, and a $426 million hole in the current budget, ending June 30.
But this is not the worst deficit Minnesota has seen. The 1980-82 budget crisis brought the worst deficit to Minnesota, with huge spending cuts and tax increases.
The current problem, however, is "similar in size and scope" to the $4.56 billion gap Pawlenty and lawmakers faced in 2003, said Tom Hanson, commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget.
The main cause reported of the predicted budget deficit is a national recession that is far worse and expected to last much longer than anticipated, reported the Star Tribune.
According to state economist Tom Stinson, this recession will be the worst in 25 years ans possibly the worst since World War II.
The current economic forecast is just plain ugly," Stinson said.
Because of the struggling economy, taxpayers are earning less, consumers are spending less and state tax collections are dropping.
Forecasters predict that over the next two years, state revenue will drop $3.3 billion, which is 9.4 percent less that earlier estimates, to $32 billion.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 41 states face budget deficits.

Recounting done with exception

Except for 133 missing ballots from Minneapolis, the U.S. Senate race vote recount is over, reported the Star Tribune Friday.
According to the Star Tribune's calculations, Republican Coleman has a 192-vote advantage over Democrat Al Franken, but the results remain unclear until the resolution of those Minneapolis ballets and thousands of ballot challenges.
Prior to the recount of votes, Coleman held a 215-vote edge. 2.9 million ballots were recounted since Nov. 19.
"We're done," said state elections director Gary Poser, after putting stickers on the 21st challenged ballot from the Wright County town of Montrose.
The last ballot that was tallied was not for Coleman or Franken, but the Independence Party's Dean Barkley, from a voter in Hanover.
The search for the 133 missing ballots was called off today at 2 p.m.
However, the 192-vote margin is expected to change as soon as the challenged ballots that have been set aside are reviewed by the state Canvassing Board. The Board is planned to meet on Dec. 16 to begin the review of the recount and to review the ballenged ballots.
According to the Star Tribune's calculations, during the recount, the Coleman campaign challenged 3,376 ballots and the Franken campaign challenged 3,281.
On Wednesday, the Franken campaign said it was withdrawing 633 challenges, and the next day the Coleman campaign said it would withdraw 650. The withdrawn challenges are not factored into the 192-vote gap.

November 20, 2008

Twin Cities Sheriff's Deputy arrested for suspected DWI

After hitting and killing a motorcyclist with his squad car in 2007, a Twin Cities Sheriff's Deputy was arrested Saturday on suspicion of drunken driving, reported KSTP.
On August 30, 2007, Dakota County Sheriff's Deputy Joshua Williams pulled his squad car out in front of motorcyclist Bill Wallace, hitting and killing him on Highway 3 and 200th in Empire Township.
Williams was arrested early Saturday morning on suspicion of drunken driving and having an open bottle of beer in his car. Williams was pulled over for speeding on County Road 46 in Empire Township, just minutes from where he hit Wallace's motorcycle 15 months earlier.
Williams failed both a field sobriety and breath test, was arrested at the scene and had his car impounded, authorities said.
Williams has worked for Dakota county since August 2000. After being convicted of careless driving May 13, 2008, he was prohibited from driving county vehicles and re-assigned to court security as a bailiff.
Williams was supposed to have his license suspended for one year but state records show it was reinstated October 7, 2008, five months after his conviction.
"He could have taken another life," step-brother Joe Geror said.
Dakota County Chief Deputy Dave Bellows said Williams is on paid leave.
"This makes us angry," Bellows said.
If convicted, this would be William's second DWI in under 10 years. He also has a DWI conviction in North Carolina from December 1998.

November 19, 2008

Charter schools to buy three Minneapolis district buildings

MPR reported Tuesday the Minneapolis School District is close to finalizing the sale of three of its buildings to charter schools.
The W.I.S.E. Charter School plans to move into Franklin School, a two-story structure in north Minneapolis built in 1970. The Hiawatha Leadership Academy will get Morris Park School of south Minneapolis, and Yinghua Academy, the first Chinese immersion charter public school in the nation, plans to move into Putnam of northeast Minneapolis.
Even though the district has leased space to private schools before, there used to be a policy banning the sale of any district building to charter schools to prevent competition.
"It isn't just a situation of trying to unload property and get some money," School Board member Pam Costain said, in an interview. "We desperately need to unload property, which carries debt and is a burden on our district — but not at the expense of high-quality education for our kids."
Fellow School Board member Tom Madden agreed and said it would be foolish to sell a building to an underperforming charter school because it would result in those students returning to the Minneapolis district. It was important to find good-performing schools that would fit with the neighborhoods, Madden said.
The building sales are partially the result of many meetings in which the district and local neighborhood groups sought input on what should be done with the vacant buildings.
The Minneapolis School District currently has 12 closed buildings, but at this point, the three are the only to be sold to other schools.
Howe, Holland and Northrop are also on the market. Offers on the three properties are due next month.

November 16, 2008

Franken sues for lists of voters whose absentee ballots were disqulified

The Al Franken campaign filed a lawsuit Thursday against Ramsey County seeking the names and addresses of voters whose absentee ballots were rejected, reported the Star Tribune.
The campaign hopes to force counties across the state to turn over lists of rejected absentee voters who, if later found eligible, could reverse the close results that announced Republican Sen. Norm Coleman as the winner of the U.S. Senate race. With Coleman ahead of Franken by 206 votes, a hand recount is scheduled to begin next week.
Marc Elias, lead recount attorney for Franken, said that both Ramsey and Hennepin counties had rejected the campaign's request, forcing it to take legal action.
Elias said that because Beltrami County had complied, the campaign had already learned of one woman, an 84-year-old stroke victim, whose absentee ballot was disqualified because her signature no longer matched that on her pre-stroke voter registration card.
"The state may not devise a regime where a woman, because she had a stroke, does not have the right to vote," Elias said at Franken headquarters Thursday morning.
Beltrami County Auditor Kay Mack questioned the campaign's account, saying her office had not rejected any ballots because of mismatched signatures. Mack said that an 87-year-old woman's ballot was rejected because it had no signature or mark. Mack said that the law is "very clear" about not accepting such ballots.
Franken campaing spokeman Andy Barr said Thursday night that the campaign is "still digging into the facts" regarding the report, and the issue does not affect the merits of their lawsuit.

Minneapolis rally protests gay marriage bans

The Star Tribune reported more than 700 people gathered in downtown Minneapolis Saturday to protest constitutional amendments passed in California, Florida and Arizona prohibiting gay marriage.
More than 700 people gathered on the plaza of the Hennepin County Government Center for the rally. Similar demonstrations were held at the Capitol in St. Paul, Duluth and other cities across the country.
"From Golden Gate Park to Loring Park, we will step together until this battle is won," Minneapolis City Council Member Gary Schiff told the crowd at the government center. "We will not forget the tens of thousands of gay couples who had their loves erased in California."
Join the Impact, who organized Saturday's demonstrations, asked supporters to be respectful and refrain from attacking other groups during the rallies.
In Boston, the mood was generally upbeat, with attendees dancing and signing to the song "Respect." Signs cast the fight for gay marriage as the new civil rights movement, including one that read "Gay is the new black."
Plans for the nationwide demonstrations were started by Seattle blogger, Amy Balliett, just days after the California vote on Proposition 8, which took away gay marriage rights that had been granted by the state's high court by defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

November 2, 2008

Franken, Coleman are neck and neck

A new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll shows DFL candidate Al Franken with a slight lead over Republican Sen. Norm Coleman among likely voters, 42 percent to 38 percent, reported the Star Tribune.
The poll has a 4.1 percentage point margin of sampling error.
Independent Party candidate Dean Barkley slipped three points to 15 percent in the Minnesota Poll.
The outcome of the Minnesota U.S. Senate race will likely to be decided by the candidate who can win the most voters from third- party contender Barkley. Performances in Sunday's final debate on Minnesota Public Radio, heavy voter turnout or ongoing fallout from breaking campaign controversies will also determine the outcome.
Coleman recently charged Franken with breaking the law by allegedly airing falsehoods in his ads. Coleman himself is facing questions about two lawsuits alleging that his wealthy friend transferred $75,000 to him from a Texas company through his wife's employer. Each candidate denies the accusations.
Both events were publicized midway through the period that the poll was conducted, Wednesday through Friday.

Joy ride kills three

The Star Tribune reported the driver of a Corvette two-seater received felony charges Friday after a crash killed three friends riding along.
The four twenty-somethings were wedged into the two-seater Monday evening when the car left a Wright County country road and crashed. Driver Stephen Dooher was pinned behind the steering wheel for 12 hours and his three friends were thrown from the car and killed.
Dooher, 22, of Waverly was charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide for each of the three victims: Andrea Northern, 23, of South Haven; Michael DeMars, 22, of Maple Lake; and Derek Kammerer, 22, of Maple Lake.
The families of the dead are divided on whether Dooher should go to jail.
"Steve's a phenomenal kid, and we'll do everything we can to help him," said Howard Kammerer, Derek's father.
He said that his family and the DeMars family place "absolutely no blame" on Dooher for the crash, adding that "nothing will be gained by sending him to jail."
Shelly Lidster of Anoka, Andrea Northern's mother, said, "Somebody has to pay. There was no reason for four people to be in that car."
"The initial deputy on the scene smelled alcohol on his breath," Wright County Attorney Brian Lutes said Friday afternoon, adding that Dooher "gave a statement ... that he admitted to drinking."
Results from tests to determine his blood-alcohol level should be received by county authorities in about 30 days, Lutes said.

October 25, 2008

Bachmann aires ad admitting to verbal fumble

U.S. Rep Michele Bachmann aired a television ad this week in which she admits only to a verbal fumble referring to her controversial remarks about Barack Obama and congress last week in an interview on MSNBC program "Hardball."
"I may not always get my words right, but I know that my heart is right because my heart is for you, for your children and for the blessings of liberty to remain for our great country," said Bachmann, R-Minn.
The ad does not refer directly to her televised comments last week that Obama "may have anti-American views" and that the media should investigate whether members of Congress are "anti-American."
After the interview, Michele said she regretted using the term "anti-American," does not believe Obama is "anti-American'' and "made a big mistake'' appearing on "Hardball.''
Since the interview, her opponent, Democrat El Tinklenberg, has raised almost $1.5 million and pulled slightlty ahead of Bachmann in two polls.
Bachmann also aired a second ad accusing Tinklenberg of supporting property tax increases while mayor of Blaine and having relationships with contractors while state transportation commissioner during the Ventura administration.
A Minnesota Public Radio News-University of Minnesota poll Friday showed Tinklenberg leads Bachmann 45 percent to 43 percent, with Independence Party candidate Bob Anderson favored by 5 percent. The poll's margin of error is 4.7 percentage points.
The MPR-University of Minnesota poll also shows 37 percent of voters said they were less likely to vote for Bachmann because of her comments made on "Hardball." 8 percent said they were now more supportive of Bachmann and more than half of those polled said the comments made no difference.
Bachmann spokeswoman Michelle Marston said that after a week of media attention, "Quite frankly, if I were El Tinklenberg, I would be quite disappointed. I would have expected much better numbers." Tinklenberg spokesman John Wodele said, "What this poll does is give credibility to the fact that Tinklenberg is seizing the moment here and continuing a momentum that probably started two weeks ago.''

Identical twins born after successful surgery in mother's womb

Identical twins were born Wednesday in Minnesota after their mother was diagnosed in her of pregnancy with twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, reported the Pioneer Press.
Gavin and Owen Cassellius were born Wednesday at 5 pounds, 9 ounces and 5 pounds, 4 ounces.
Their mother, Jeana Cassellius, was diagnosed in her 19th week of pregnancy with twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, an imbalance that occurs when identical twins share a placenta and one chronically loses blood to the other. In many cases, neither child survives. The "donor" child can become dehydrated and weak, while the "recipient" can swell and develop heart failure because of overwhelming blood volume.
Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome occurs in 3 percent of all pregnancies, and treatment options are limited. Babies die in 80 to 90 percent of these cases without treatment.
Doctors at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis and Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota researched, fetoscopic laser ablation, a treatment option that had not been used in Minnesota until this year.
The procedure involves threading a tiny laser light into the uterus and using it to sever the shared vessels that are causing the imbalance in blood flow.
The absence of this surgical option in Minnesota troubled Drs. William Block and Brad Feltis.
"It pushed Brad and (me) to feel like we needed to be able to offer that here," Block said.
Fetis and Block performed Jeana Cassellius' operation July 3, after traveling to Belgium to learn the procedure.
Studies have shown that 35 percent to 40 percent of these surgeries save both twins and 75 percent to 90 percent of the surgeries save at least one twin. However, neurological impairments can occur for up to 8 percent of the surviving newborns, and the deaths of both babies still occur in up to one in four cases.
Cassellius' operation was successful as the babies survived to 24 week's gestation and beyond. The twins were born at 36 week, near full term.

October 18, 2008

Bachmann says Obama "may" be anti-American

State Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann said in a TV interview Friday that she is concerned that Barack Obama "may have anti-American views," reported The Associated Press.
In an interview on the MSNBC show "Hardball," host Chris Matthews asked Bachmann if she thinks Obama may have anti-American views. Bachmann replied, "Absolutely. I'm very concerned that he may have anti-American views."
Bachmann said she is concerned with Obama's past associations with his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and 1960s radical Bill Ayers. Similar criticisms have been made by presidential candidate John McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin.
Bachmann is currently running for reelection in Minnesota's 6th District.
Nick Kimball, Minnesota spokesman for the Obama campaign, called Bachmann's criticisms "scare tactics and false attacks." Republicans are using comments such as these in order to distract voters from discussions of the economy, said Kimball.
During the "Hardball" interview, Bachmann also highlighted Michelle Obama's comment, "for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country," which she made earlier in the year.
"And so these are very anti-American views," Bachmann said.
Matthews also asked Bachmann, "How many people in Congress of the United States do you believe are anti-American?"
Bachmann replied, "I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America?"
Michelle Marston, spokeswoman for Bachmann's reelection campaign, said it is "perfectly legitimate for the American people to want to know how all this informs his policy positions and what direction an Obama Administration would want to lead the nation."

Hundreds gather at Loring Park for 10-year anniversary of Matthew Shepard's death

Hundreds gathered at a candlelight vigil in Minneapolis' Loring Park on Monday Oct. 7 to remember the 10-year anniversary of Matthew Shepard's death, reported the Star Tribune.
The crowd was mostly silent, surrounded by a group of people dressed as angels with towering wings. Judy Shepard, Matthew's mother, spoke to the crowd in Loring Park and said, "Things are going to get better. As my husband, Dennis, says, 'It's been 10 years of change, but no progress."
On Oct. 7, 1998, Shepard, a 21-year-old gay college student, was taken to a remote location outside of Laramie, Wyo., where he was beaten, pistol-whipped, tied to a fence post and left to die.
Shepard was not found for 18 hours and died on Oct. 12 at a hospital in Colorado. Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson were convicted in his murder and are serving life sentences.
Shepard's death drew international media attention and became a signal for change and tolerance toward the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
After the vigil in Loring Park, bagpipers led a processional of supporters out of the park to thw Woman's Club Theatre for a reading of "The Laramie Project," a play inspired by Shepard's death which chronicles the town's reaction to the attack.

October 12, 2008

Gas prices drop sharply across Twin Cities

KARE 11 news reported Sunday that a national survey shows gas prices dropped 35 cents in the last two weeks, after the price decline in world oil markets.
According to the Lundberg Survey, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline at self-serve stations on Friday was $3.31. Mid-grade was $3.45, premium was $3.57 and diesel was $3.95.
Prices from 5,000 gas stations nationwide were collected in the survey, released Sunday.
KARE 11 reported in the Twin Cities a gas station in Coon Rapids selling regular unleaded for $2.61 a gallon and station in St. Francis selling regular unleaded for $2.59 a gallon.
The Associated Press reported Friday that prices fell below $3 a gallon on average in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
Experts say that if crude prices keep falling, the rest of the country will see gasoline being sold for less than $3 a gallon in the next few weeks.
"Industry analysts say gas could fall as low as $2.50 to $2.75 a gallon, but many see that as a temporary pause before prices rise again," reported the Associated Press.

Owner of St. Paul duplex raided before RNC plans to sue city

The owner of a St. Paul duplex raided by police two days before the start of the Republican National Convention has announced plans to sue the city in federal court, reported the Pioneer Press Friday.
Michael Whalen, 60, claims police came to his property at 949/951 Iglehart Ave. on Aug. 30 and surrounded its occupants with weapons drawn.
Ted Dooley, Whalen's attorney, said that the officers initially had no search warrant and were denied entry. Police returned a couple of hours later with a warrant and shackled Whalen and others in the back yard, Dooley said.
According to the search warrant affidavit, explosives delivered in boxes were among the things authorities were looking for. The boxes were found to be full of vegan literature.
Whalen lives in the 951 half of the house and was allowing members of an independent media group, I-Witness Video, to stay in the empty 949 side during the convention.
I-Witness Video planned to document protest activity during the convention. This is the same group that helped exonerate 400 people charged in connection with protests at the 2004 Republican Convention held in New York.
City Attorney John Choi said police entered the house with a search warrant signed by a Ramsey County district judge.

October 4, 2008

Credit crisis affects Minnesota programs

The Wall Street credit crisis is having a direct effect on Minnesota, KSTP reported Friday.
Three out of the five major investment houses that bid on bonds from the state of Minnesota to raise money for city and state projects have crashed and are no longer in business.
The state of Minnesota has canceled plans to seek more money next week to pay for improvements to police communications across the state. The project will not be delayed, but taxpayers will be forced to pay more.
In addition to 911 communication, roads in Bloomington and streetscapes and lighting in Minneapolis are suffering a loss of funding.
The Minnesota Commissioner of Finance was planning on selling $42 million worth of bonds next week to continue funding 911 communication systems, but the sale is now on hold. Construction will continue, but probably with the help of funds contributed to monthly by cell phone users.
Minneapolis is uncertain whether it will continue to attempt to raise $7 million in November for street, landscape and road improvements.
"Bloomington officials say they will go ahead with a nearly $10 million sale on Monday, but taxpayers will have to pay higher interest rates to investors to convince them to lend the cash." (KSTP)

Gunman attacks Brooklyn Center woman

Brooklyn Center police are asking for help to identify a gunman who attacked and robbed a 19-year-old woman Thursday, reported the Pioneer Press.
According to the Brooklyn Park Police Department, the woman, a college student, was walking home from school near 61st Avenue North and Brooklyn Boulevard when she saw a red compact car following her.
Police said a man attacked the woman, hitting her in the head with the barrel of a large revolver several times and fired a shot during the attack. The suspect then stole the woman's backpack and fled.
Brooklyn Center Police Cmdr. Stu Robinson said that the woman wasn't injured badly injured, but she and her family "are a little freaked out" because of the attack.
Police gathered images of the man and the vehicle from a nearby gas station surveillance camera, but are asking for help from the public in identifying the suspect. Anyone with information about the man or the incident are being asked to call the Brooklyn Center police.

September 28, 2008

Journalists facing "unlawful assembly" charges from RNC won't be prosecuted

The Minnesota Independent reported Sept. 19 that St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman's office announced that morning that journalists cited by authorities at the Republican National Convention for "unlawful assembly" will not be prosecuted by the city attorney.
This statement specifically refers to those journalists who were "swept up" in the massive arrests during protests in St. Paul during the first and last days of the convention (The Minnesota Independent).
It is not certain how many people this announcement includes, but according to The Minnesota Independent, nearly 50 of the more than 800 people arrested or detained were present to cover the convention. St. Paul City Attorney John Choi said that all of the cases of those arrested or detained will be reviewed individually.
Charges against "Democracy Now!" host Amy Goodman and two of her producers were dropped after their cases were reviewed. However, Choi said, “What defines probable cause for an arrest is different from what defines probable cause for a charge. … We have to look at whether we can succeed at court."
Mayor Coleman said in regard to the policy regarding journalists at the RNC, “This decision reflects the values we have in St. Paul to protect and promote our First Amendment rights to freedom of the press. … A journalist plays a special role in our democracy and that role is just too important to ignore.?
The statement also acknowledges the need to use a broad definition for journalists involved in the arrests as professional media is drastically changing.

RNC protester files federal lawsuit

The Star Tribune reported Friday that attorneys for one of the leaders of war protests at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul is filing a federal lawsuit alleging he was hit at close range by a projectile fired by police during a demonstration Sept. 4.
According to attorney Tom Dooley, Mick Kelly, 51, of Minneapolis, sustained a large bruise on his stomach and was falsely arrested just after the incident at a sit-in at the corner of 12th Street and Cedar Avenue. No permanent injuries were listed as part of the allegations.
Dooley told the Star Tribune that a notice of claim outlining the allegations was given to news media and mailed on Friday to the defendants: the cities of St. Paul, Minneapolis and Bloomington and the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office. All of the defendants had officers at the scene of the alleged firing of the projectile and arrest.
In response to the allegations, St. Paul attorney John Choi said, "We are confident that all of the facts will support our police, that the police acted appropriately in this case."

September 21, 2008

Motorcycle accident leads to murder investigation

A man was arrested in Anoka County Friday night suspected of staging his girlfriend's death as a motorcycle accident.
28-year-old Natasha Waalen's body was found on the road early Friday morning on the 16800 block of Tulip Street in Andover next to a motorcycle. The scene looked like an accident, but authorities say her injuries were not those of a crash.
Cindy Erickson, Waalen's mother said that she thinks her daughter's death is the result of a long-term abusive relationship with her 33-year-old boyfriend who was arrested for her death. The suspect was arrested after investigators, who suspected something more than a motorcycle accident, searched the house he shared with Waalen in Anoka along with their 4-year-old daughter.
"Horrible, it's been a nightmare for her," Erickson told KARE 11 News. "Many times she'd come to stay with me. A few times she went back, and he would never leave."
The suspect is being held in the Anoka County Jail, and could be charged as early as Monday.

Supposed gang-related fight in Savage

A 20-year-old man remained in the hospital Monday night after a fight broke out in front of a house party early Saturday morning in Savage.
A neighbor told WCCO that a police officer said the fight was gang-related and that police had been called to the house two other times to break up the party. He said that the party was thrown by teenagers while their parents were out of town.
The neighbor said that he saw 20 people in the street fighting and watched the 20-year-old man get hit over the head with a wine bottle. Since the fight is still under investigation, police will not confirm if gang members were involved.
"People who live in the neighborhood said they live there because it is quiet and disturbances are rare." (WCCO)
An uncle of the teenagers throwing the party said that the party started as a small party but got out of control.
The fight is being investigated as a felony assault, and anyone with further information is being asked to call the Savage Police Department.

September 14, 2008

Obama and McCain dead even in state of Minnesota

Sunday a Star Tribune Minnesota Poll reported that Barack Obama and John McCain are tied with support from 45 percent of likely voters in the state. The new poll shows that McCain gained support since the Minnesota Poll in May that showed him trailing Obama by 13 points.
With 51 days before Election Day, the Star Tribune says that Sunday's poll will evoke further campaigning from each candidate in Minnesota.
Increased support of McCain may be attributed to last week's Republican National Convention held in St. Paul and his choice of Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin as a running mate.
The Minnesota Poll and follow-up interviews with people who participated in the poll show that voters have strong reactions to McCain's choice of Palin as a vice-presidential candidate. The poll states that 30 percent of state voters were more likely to vote for McCain after Palin received the nomination, while 26 percent said the nomination made them less likely to vote for the Republican candidate.
The Minnesota Poll also finds that Minnesota voters view Democratic vice-presedential candidate Joe Biden as a more qualified running mate while Palin is better liked, reported by the Associated Press.

September 11, 2008

St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese denies allegation in child molestation suit

The Star Tribune reported that Wednesday the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis was accused of helping an Ecuadorian priest flee the United States after allegedly molesting a 4-year-old girl in Minneapolis.
The archdiocese denied the allegation as part of a lawsuit asking for more than $50,000. Church spokesman Dennis McGrath said, "Archdiocesan officials had absolutely no role in the priest's departure to his home country."
Rev. Francisco (Fredy) Montero left for Ecuador in July 2007 while under investigation for molestation of the girl, who is the daughter of a parishioner with whom Montero was living and having an affair. At the time, Montero was serving as a priest at the Church of the Incarnation in Minneapolis. While living with the mother of the 4-year-old, Montero was supposed to be living with the archdiocese's vicar general, Kevin McDonough.
Prosecuting attorney, Jeff Anderson, said during a news conference Wednesday that McDonough and the archdiocese should have kept a closer watch on Montero's actions.
Montero came to the Twin Citites in 2002 and was arrested in the summer of 2007 in connection with an investigation of criminal sexual misconduct. Montero left the United States about a week after being released from jail before police investigation was completed.
Although a letter was sent by the archdiocese to Montero's superiors in Ecuador informing them of the allegations, Anderson said that Montero is currently in Ecuador working with children at his former parish.