Republican lawmaker ends re-election bid after daughter accuses him of sexually abusing her during childhood
Jim Knoblach ended his run abruplty after his daughter Laura alleged that he indulged in inappropriate touching, including kissing and biting her ears, for over a decade.
Minnesota state representative Jim Knoblach abruptly ended his re-election campaign for the Minnesota House of Representatives on Friday amid allegations of inappropriate touching from his adult daughter.
The abrupt announcement from the 60-year-old Minnesota Republican came just hours after his attorney, Susan Gaertner, denied the allegations in an interview with Minnesota Public. She said the veteran St Cloud Republican “does not want to drag his family through six weeks of hell.”
Knoblach’s 23-year-old daughter, Laura, told MPR that he inappropriately touched her for most of her life, with her first memories starting when she was nine years old and continuing until she was 21. She said the activity included kissing, licking and biting her ears. She also confirmed that she confided in close friends, family and authority figures at her school and church about his actions for more than a decade.
Laura Knoblach revealed to MPR that she first remembers her father coming into her room after she’d gone to bed. She claimed that he climbed in and laid down behind her. “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,” she told the station. Laura also alleged that Knoblach would kiss her across her arms and neck, and bite her ears while they watched movies on the couch. These activities happened so often throughout her childhood and teenage years it became a defining part of their relationship, she said.
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, pinning her against the refrigerator or dishwasher and using his weight and strength to keep her from getting away.
In a written statement, Jim Knoblach called the allegations “indescribably hurtful” and said he felt he had no other choice but to drop out of the race so he could work toward healing his family.
“I love my children more than anything, and would never do anything to hurt them. Her allegations are false,” Knoblach wrote. “I and other family members have made repeated attempts to reconcile with her in recent years, but she has refused.”
Knoblach added that he wasn’t willing to spend six weeks fighting with his daughter in the media. “Our daughter has been estranged from our family for some time,” he said. “In late 2016 she made some extremely hurtful and untrue accusations on a Facebook post, which was briefly put up and then taken down. These accusations were fully investigated by Sherburne county, dismissed, and the case closed in April 2017.”
Read Knoblach's full statement below:
The St Cloud Police Department and Sherburne County sheriff’s office began an investigation last year after Laura's complaints but declined to file charges.
After exhausting all other means, Laura Knoblach made the allegations to MPR on the record and supplied extensive documentation about her attempts to get help. The documentation included a letter from the Sherburne County attorney’s office saying there was “insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Jim Knoblach had committed a crime”.
Jim Knoblach is chairman of the House ways and means committee, which has jurisdiction over budget matters. He was running against the St. Cloud Democratic candidate Dan Wolgamott.