MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Archdiocese settles first child sex abuse case under Minnesota Child Victim's act
ST. PAUL -- It took 43-years but the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has settled with a man who was sexually abuse by a priest. Jon Jaker says he was eleven when Father Thomas Stitts sexually abused him in 1971, while he was an altar boy at St. Leo's Catholic Church in St. Paul. Jaker says there is a choruse of strong survivors building, and he wants that sound to grow. A statement from the archdiocese apoligizes for, "The Church's shameful failures of the past." Church officials also say the terms of the settlement were not declared confidential, but they aren't being disclosed out of deference to the victim. Father Stitts died in 1985.
A Moorhead man accused of making bomb threats to Sanford Health in Fargo has pleaded not guilty to terrorizing. Peter Rovang's attorney asked the judge to reduce bail so Rovang can be placed in an alcohol treatment program. The judge denied it until a place is chosen. Rovang is accused of making several calls to Sanford on July 11 mentioning explosions and shootings. His attorney told the judge the incidents were a result of Rovang's alcoholism and a traumatic brain injury.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has confirmed that the Emerald Ash Borer has moved in just south of Rochester -- about 45 miles away from the nearest confirmed infestation at Great River Bluff State Park in Winona County. Olmsted County joins Winona, Houston, Ramsey and Hennepin Counties in a state and federal quarantine aimed at preventing the spread of the tiny damaging green beetle. The quarantine limits the transport of any items that might be infested by EAB, including ash trees, ash tree limbs, and all hardwood firewood. The Emerald Ash Borer was first detected in Minnesota in 2009 at a site along the Mississippi River in Houston County. Minnesota has about one billion ash trees, which is the most of any state in the nation.
St. Cloud State University has included electronic cigarettes in its tobacco-free policy this year. Smoking is banned both indoors and outdoors at the University, and now that means e-cigarettes as well. If students are found breaking the tobacco-free policy they will first get a written warning, a second offense may result in a fine or a mandatory educational program, and a conduct officer will determine the punishment if they're caught a third time. A campus student health survey shows that more than 77 percent of students support the smoke-free policy, and that tobacco use has declined every year since S-C-S-U put it in place in 2012.
The 2014 Minnesota State Fair kicks off today and admission is discounted for Thrifty Thursday ($11 adults, $8 kids). Fair spokeswoman Brienna Schuette says they're excited to showcase the 15-million-dollar renovation project on the old Heritage Square site. She says the West End Market is a new shopping, food and beverage, entertainment and history complex that will be debuting this year. Two brand new restaurants are in the West End Market, one of which is home to the fair's first rooftop patio. Schuette says the centerpiece is the new Minnesota State Fair History and Heritage Center. There's also a new West End gate and transit hub for buses. Country music star Toby Keith headlines tonight's opening night Grandstand Concert series (Thurs 7:30pm).
Two men are facing charges in the grisly murder of a Brooklyn Center man. Hennepin County authorities say 22-year-old Guillermo Ayala-Enriquez of Brooklyn Center and 24-year-old Manuel Guzman of Minneapolis are each charged with second-degree murder in the death of Rufino Clara-Rendon after the three men attended a barbeque. Investigators say the suspects accused Clara-Rendon of being a snitch. They are accused of shooting Clara-Rendon, rolling his body in carpeting and then stuffing it into a mattress, dousing it with gas and setting it on fire. Police in Minneapolis say they found the body on August 7th near a dumpster.
An appeal has been filed by Waseca County prosecutors, following a judge's decision to drop the most serious charges against a 17-year-old boy accused of plotting an attack at his school. Officials say the six counts that were dismissed were the only ones that could have sent John LaDue to prison and would also have made it possible to try the case in adult court. Last month Waseca County Judge Gerald Wolf dismissed four counts of attempted murder and two counts of attempted damage to property, saying there was not enough evidence to show that LaDue had taken substantial steps to put his plot in motion. He is now facing just six counts of possessing explosives. Among the evidence police collected was a notebook that outlined LaDue's plan to kill his family and then attack students and staff at the high school with bombs, molatov cocktails, and a gun.
A University of Minnesota student from Norwood Young America is the 61st Princess Kay of the Milky Way. Nineteen-year-old Jeni Haler was crowned Wednesday night at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. The Carver County representative is majoring in animal science and Spanish/Portuguese studies. She will serve as the official goodwill ambassador for more than 3,600 Minnesota dairy farmers. Twelve county dairy princesses from across Minnesota competed for the Princess Kay title. The runners-up were Audrey Lane of Prior Lake in Scott County and Sabrina Ley of Belgrade in Stearns County.
Republican U-S Senate candidate Mike McFadden on the Iron Range Wednesday said Senator Al Franken hasn't been clear on whether he supports the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine. McFadden says actions speak louder than words, and Franken in six years as a U-S senator has not actively pushed to get PolyMet open or to streamline the process. McFadden pledges on day one as a U-S senator he'll send a letter to the E-P-A demanding there are no additional delays on the PolyMet project. A spokeswoman for Franken campaign responds the senator supports mining and "believes the PolyMet project will create jobs and that it will be done in an environmentally responsible way."
Republican candidate for governor Jeff Johnson says he's disappointed a federal judge is letting a union election continue. Personal care workers are deciding whether the Service Employees International Union will represent them. Johnson says what's really happening is Governor Dayton is "using his office to pay back those who helped him get elected, which are the unions." The Dayton campaign declined to comment, directing inquiries to the governor's office. Dayton has said previously that personal care workers have a right to decide whether they want a union.
Minnesotans can weigh in on political issues at the State Fair by visiting the House of Representatives booth. The 2014 House opinion poll covers topics such as public subsidies for hosting the Super Bowl, legalizing recreational marijuana, requiring swimming lessons for all K-12 students and increasing the state's gasoline tax. More than seven-thousand fairgoers participated in last year's survey. The Minnesota Senate is conducting its own poll. The House and Senate booths are in the Education Building.