On Monday, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office dismissed three-year old 2nd degree criminal sexual conduct charges against a Wayzata businessman. However, despite dismissing the case, the prosecution filed a dismissal document that reiterates all of the original allegations that could not be proven in court.
Nov 05, 2012 (Star Tribune (Minneapolis) – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) — Hennepin County prosecutors on Monday quietly dropped sexual molestation charges against Wayzata businessman William Wanner, citing a lack of cooperation from the alleged victim on the eve of his trial.
But Wanner’s attorney said the case, which nearly destroyed his client’s business and life, was the result of a three-year political witch hunt by County Attorney Mike Freeman. “He has all the courage of an enraged rabbit,” Wanner’s attorney Joe Friedberg said Monday. “He’s a terrible county attorney, only topped by how bad a lawyer he was.” Friedberg is most outraged by a detailed document outlining why the state dismissed its case against Wanner, something he said he’s never seen before.
“It’s probably the most outrageous pleading I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said.
Wanner, 67, the CEO of Wanner Industries, was charged in January 2010 with two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly molesting the 10-year-old girl at the Minneapolis Club pool. The case dragged on as Wanner’s defense successfully challenged two interviews with the girl that were eventually thrown out, while a judge ruled that portions of the surveillance video from the pool could be used at trial.
In the six-page dismissal filed Monday morning, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Darren Borg repeated in detail the allegations against Wanner and wrote that the girl’s attorney, Deborah Ellis, refused to allow her to meet with prosecutors. According to the document, the girl submitted a sworn statement Friday saying that, if called to testify, she would deny that Wanner sexually abused her. Although prosecutors could still call her to the stand, the questioning would be aimed toward getting the girl to refute her claims that she wasn’t molested.
“The State does not believe it wise or prudent to subject a child victim to this experience as it is clearly not in the best interests of the child,” Borg wrote.
Without the girl’s testimony, the remaining video evidence and testimony of other witnesses isn’t sufficient to convict Wanner, Borg wrote.
County Attorney spokesman Chuck Laszewski said neither Freeman nor Borg would not comment on the case.
Friedberg, who along with attorney Paul Engh represented Wanner, said he has never seen a written dismissal that repeated in detail the allegations against his client.
“I have never seen them make a final argument and state it as a fact,” Friedberg said. Referring to Freeman, he said it was filed by a guy “that’s got no guts whatsoever.” Friedberg said Borg did “exemplary” job handling the case, reserving his scathing remarks for Freeman.
“He charged an innocent man,” Friedberg said. “He’s had his life ruined over this and this is the most outrageous use of a county attorney’s office that I’ve ever seen. The people of Hennepin County deserve what they get by voting for a man because his father with the same last name was a governor a half a century ago.” Wanner, who has been free on $500,000 bail since charges were filed, said the past three years have been “terrible,” and one where he’s discovered who his true friends are. His business, already struggling through difficult economic times, lost financing and almost went under. Although his family stood by him and he’s grateful it’s over, he’s angry.
“This whole waiting for three years has been unbelievable, but none of it needed to happen,” he said. “Not from the beginning.” Abby Simons –612-673-4921 ___ (c)2012 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) Visit the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) at www.startribune.com Distributed by MCT Information Services