With a little digging, the Governor's corrections department could have discovered: 1. Geifer's 2008 involvement in a criminal prank and 2. He was not quite the devoted family man they thought he was when explaining the pardon.
1.A Flashing Prank and Police Misconduct
Bluestem has obtained information about an episode in which Jeremy Giefer was questioned by law enforcement about his involvement in a cruel prank where the victim was an 18-year-old woman who exposed her breasts to a group of men in exchange for the promise to drop a "minor" alcohol charge .
The investigation took place prior to his pardon in the fall of 2008.
The incident--which resulted in a misdemeanor through a plea agreement of a police officer after the victim refused to file charges--is likely to raise additional questions about the adminstration's due diligence in vetting applications for pardons.
Were the local police asked about involvement in investigations of sexual-based crimes?
News of Giefer's 2008 pardon extraordinary for a 1994 statutory rape conviction --and questions about the Pawlenty-chaired board's due diligence--were first raised on Bluestem Prairie on Sunday. The Star Tribune, City Pages Blotter and Associated Press all followed up on the story.
Facing a brisk wind chilling his chances at gaining the approval of the Republican base, Governor Pawlenty issued a letter today addressed to county attorneys in Blue Earth and Ramsey County, addressing the issue of pursuing perjury charges against accused child molester Jeremy Giefer of Vernon Center, Minnesota.
City Pages' Nick Pinto writes in this afternoon's Pawlenty on sex criminal daycare pardon: "I am very troubled":
Today Pawlenty sent a letter to the Blue Earth and Ramsey County attorneys expressing his shock that Giefer might have lied when he told the Board of Pardon's he'd been good, and asking them to look into charging Giefer with perjury.
"I am very troubled by the prospect that a pardon applicant may have been committing serious crimes while representing to the Board of Pardons that he was law-abiding," Pawlenty wrote.
The governor's right: people shouldn't lie. But if the Board of Pardons is counting on the good faith and honesty of convicted felons, something is seriously wrong, and we need to have a conversation about it.
Unfortunately, the governor isn't interested in talking. When we asked for comment, his spokesman, Bruce Gordon, sent us a terse email: "You have our statement."
What might the conversation include? I'm betting the incident at Vernon Center's Pumpkinland might be part of it, since it involved the misbehavior of a local police officer in a cruel sexual-based prank against an 18-year-old woman. A tipster set Bluestem on the trail of a local rumor that has been substantiated by public records.
On August 7, 2008, the Mankato Free Press reported in Officer charged with misconduct:
A 23-year-old police officer working in Amboy and Vernon Center has been charged for allegedly faking a woman’s arrest, then asking her to flash her breasts in exchange for her release.
Steven Patrick Boyle of Austin is accused of participating in a prank with several other men, including the 18-year-old victim’s boyfriend. He’s been suspended and charged with misconduct of a public official, a gross misdemeanor.
The incident was investigated by the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Department, which also requested charges of coercion and accepting a bribe.
According to the criminal complaint filed Thursday:
Boyle was working the night of July 4 and early morning of July 5 when he stopped at Pumpkinland near Vernon Center. Others there, except for the only female, knew he would be coming and he pretended to question them about drinking in their camper parked at the business.
The woman ran and Boyle chased her. After he caught her, he gave her a breath test, handcuffed her and put her in the back of his squad car. Then he told her she could avoid going to jail by showing her breasts.
She agreed, was released, returned to a campfire area and showed her breasts to the entire group. The woman, who later told investigators the incident didn’t bother her, was then told it was a prank.
Like so much in this story, the prank will probably be excused as harmless "fun." Law enforcement and the Blue Earth County prosecutor thought elsewise. Boyle pled out, as the November 17, 2008, Mankato Free Press reported inFormer officer fined for fake arrest, flash:
A former Amboy and Vernon Center police officer was fined Monday after pleading guilty to faking the arrest of an 18-year-old woman, then telling her she would be released if she flashed her breasts.
A 90-day jail sentence was stayed for 23-year-old Steven Patrick Boyle of Austin. He admitted to conduct that would have justified a gross misdemeanor conviction, and he was sentenced for a misdemeanor through a plea agreement, said Chris Rovney, assistant Blue Earth County attorney.
Boyle was fined $200 and placed on probation for one year.
Rovney said the deal was made, in part, because the victim did not want to pursue charges and Boyle admitted to the allegations. Boyle resigned from his part-time police officer job with the department serving Amboy and Vernon Center shortly after the misconduct of a public officer charge was filed. . . .
After working a late shift the night of July 4 and morning of July 5, Boyle agreed with several other men, including the victim’s boyfriend, to participate in a prank on the woman. He was still in uniform and driving a squad car when he went to Pumpkinland, south of Vernon Center, where the woman was camping.
Boyle pretended to arrest her for underage drinking, handcuffed her and placed her in the squad car. Then he told her he would let her go if she flashed her breasts. The woman agreed.
She was told the arrest was a hoax after she returned to a campfire area and flashed her breasts in front of several people, witnesses reported. . .
Where does Giefer enter this picture? Bluestem received a tip that he was somehow involved in the prank and interviewed by the investigators; the file was examined at the Blue Earth County district court earlier in the week,as was record of the investigation by the sheriff's department.
The file (Report #0801107) in the sheriff's office for the investigation that supports the criminal complaint against the former officer, State of Minnesota v. Steven Patrick Boyle (Case No. 07-CR-08-2582)--reviewed for Bluestem by a friend--includes the statement:
The reports do indicate that Jeremy Giefer was believed to be present during the incident and a party to the prank.
What was Giefer's role as a "party to the prank"? The case file for the court says nothing more. However, it does indicate that had the board looked a bit closer to Vernon Center, it might have uncovered an incident which suggests that Giefer was less than the ideal family man represented in his application.
2. A Family Man?
A second episode from 2008 is also suggestive.
In defense of the pardon, the Governor's office sent out the following statement (from the Blotter):
"The Governor has consistently opposed pardons for sex offenders and believes sex offenses are heinous. However, the Board made an exception in this case and voted unanimously to pardon this 1994 conviction because it involved sexual conduct between two people who became husband and wife, maintained a long-term marriage, had a family together, and because the defendant completed his sentence many years before seeking the pardon which his wife and others supported."
But the recent criminal complaint for the new charges include statements that Giefer had had an affair and that his victim--his firstborn daughter, the girl born when her mother had sex at 14--has a little sister whom she loves but does not live in the home. This child appears to be the product of the affair and the object of the support case filed in June 2009 (see very bottom of my first post).
Count backward: if the case requesting child support were filed immediately upon the birth of the child (I haven't looked at the file and have no certainty of when the mother asked for child support), Giefer's extramarital lover would have been carrying his child--and thus he was carrying on--at the time of his October 2008 hearing. Again, not exactly the standard issue model husband.
Moreover, according to the file sent to Bluestem by the Board of Pardons, the petition was delayed in part because Giefer had been arrested and convicted of disorderly conduct in early 2008. Taken alone, this is nothing; taken with the prank involvement and the affair, the picture of a solid citizen grows dimmer.
And yet these are not the felonies with which he is now charged. One can only wonder,though, if a closer look might have prompted investigators to look more pointedly at the family. Would trained investigators--say, those trained in detecting child sexual abuse--have been able to spare the victim two years of abuse, should the charges be shown to be true?
But now that the horse (or whatever) is out of the barn, Governor Pawlenty has made the bold, headline grabbing move to shut down the Giefers' home-based day care business. All of Minnesota will no doubt praise such a heroic bit of hindsight.
Image: Page 1 of the Pawlenty pardon letter.