Dan Rassier files defamation lawsuit against investigators for Wetterling case
ST. JOSEPH, Minn. (KMSP) – Dan Rassier is suing the Stearns County investigators, including the sheriff, who once named him a person of interest in the Jacob Wetterling case.
According to the lawsuit filed Wednesday morning, Rassier and his mom, Rita, are seeking more than $2 million in damages, claiming the law enforcement agencies botched the investigation into Jacob’s disappearance.
“The thing you have to understand is people in Stearns County, we didn’t do any research, but people really thought he was guilty,” Mike Padden, Rassier’s attorney, told Fox 9. People really believed it. That’s the problem when law enforcement runs amok like that.”
Eleven-year-old Jacob was kidnapped at the end of Rassier’s driveway on October 22, 1989. During the initial investigation, Rassier told authorities he saw two cars drive onto the farm property the day of the abduction.
But in the years that followed, Rassier went from being a key witness to the focus of investigators.
In 2004, Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension zeroed in on Rassier. He was formally named a person of interest in the Wetterling case in 2010 after investigators executed a search warrant was executed on his farm and took his personal property and some of his land.
The court documents describe a malicious, reckless and fraudulent effort on the part of the three investigators named in the lawsuit to obtain the search warrant. Rassier and his lawyers claim the investigators did not disclose certain details to the judge regarding the case because it would have kept them from getting the warrant.
The personal property that was taken in the search was not returned to Rassier until last November, two months after Heinrich admitted to the kidnapping and killing Jacob, the lawsuit says. The topsoil that was taken by investigators has still not been returned.
Rassier was finally cleared after Heinrich confessed to the crime last September. His claims in the lawsuit include defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and unlawful entry, search and destruction of his home and property on the part of law enforcement.
In addition to Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner, Rassier also named Pam Jensen who worked for Sanner as well as the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s Ken McDonald as co-conspirators against him.
Click to read more and view the video: http://www.fox9.com/news/244683777-story
November 21, 2016 6:37 PM
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Two Minnesota men will file civil rights lawsuits against the sheriff’s office that led the investigation into Jacob Wetterling’s kidnapping. They claim the failings of investigators ruined their reputations, after accusing both of them of murders they did not commit.
Dan Rassier was the first publicly named person of interest in Jacob’s case. He wasn’t cleared until Danny Heinrich’s courtroom confession. Ryan Larson was arrested for the killing of a Cold Spring police officer. Another man who killed himself was later named as the killer in that case.
Continue Reading: http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2016/11/21/stearns-county-lawsuits/
Stearns sheriff must clear innocent man
With the recent developments regarding Jacob Wetterling’s disappearance, many have been able to obtain much-needed closure from a crime haunted our region for over two decades.
Now that the healing can begin, one aspect has gotten lost among the shuffle; the systemic misconduct that has taken place within the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department. The manner in which the initial search, and eventual investigation was executed not only allowed Jacob’s killer to remain free for more than two decades, but also destroyed the reputation of an innocent man.
Throughout Sheriff John Sanner’s time, his investigation attempted to create a new theory for Jacob’s abduction and murder, one that is based entirely around one innocent man — Dan Rassier.
Despite finding no evidence linking Rassier to the crime, the sheriff continues to refuse to clear his name. It has been six years since that very public search of the Rassier family farm. Not a single item has been returned to the family, nor was Dan ever officially cleared from the case — leaving him forever connected to a crime he didn’t commit.
To top this off, we all had the pleasure of watching Sheriff Sanner stand tall during that news conference following the killer’s confession, praising himself and his department while ignoring that it was blogger Joy Baker’s hard work that ultimately shifted the investigation back in the right direction.
So, job well done Mr. Sanner, but our leadership of the department needs to be re-examined.