ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota state Rep. Jim Knoblach abruptly ended his re-election campaign Friday amid allegations of inappropriate touching from his adult daughter.

Minnesota Public Radio reported the announcement came hours after the St. Cloud Republican’s attorney, Susan Gaertner, denied the allegations in an interview with the station. She said the veteran lawmaker “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 9 years old and continuing until she was 21. She said the activity included kissing, licking and biting her ears. She said she confided in close friends, family and authority figures at her school and church about his actions for more than a decade.

(credit: Minnesota House of Representatives)

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, 60, is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over budget matters. The timing of his exit could make his seat, already a top target for Democrats, difficult for Republicans to hold absent some kind of court intervention or a write-in campaign by a substitute candidate. Dan Wolgamott of St. Cloud is the Democratic candidate.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, who’s trying to preserve what he can of the GOP’s current 21-seat majority in the House, said in a statement that he supported Knoblach’s decision.

The St. Cloud Police Department and Sherburne County sheriff’s office began an investigation last year but declined to file charges. After exhausting 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.”

Laura Knoblach told MPR she first remembers her father coming into her room after she’d gone to bed. She said 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.

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 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.

Jim Knoblach said in his statement 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.”

(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (4)
  1. Jorge Gonzalez says:

    The article describing parts of Laura Knoblach read like every other alcoholic and drug addict I’ve ever known. Publicly throwing out accusations then deleting them. Even the police refused to go any further. Why? Because her story changed so drastically when she told them? He would still be within the statue of limitations for her filing a lawsuit. “Under the more recent 2013 state law, the civil statute of limitations that previously gave child sex abuse victims until age 24 to sue is removed. Victims over age 24 have a three-year window to sue for past abuse. Anyone under 24 — as of May 25, when the new law went into effect — has an unlimited time to file.” So why doesn’t she file? She was definitely told she could do that.

  2. Democrats get caught by the police at freeway rest stops with their pants down and they don’t even get arrested. And the media just ignores it, even after they did a story about a child prostitution problem in the same area the democrat got caught.

  3. Sherburne County is very much under the influence of the Roman Catholic Church in state politics. Her allegations were dismissed by “authorities”. Double standards & denial typical of the Roman Catholic church today across the board in sexual assault cases. A failure to protect the victim.

  4. These are the sick perverted mentally deranged people infesting our society and government. When we seek a way to weed them out?

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