The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 9, 2014

Lawyer claims defamation by Sleepy Eye police, newspaper

Lawsuit filed against Sleepy Eye, police, newspaper

NEW ULM — A Sleepy Eye lawyer has filed a defamation lawsuit in Brown County District Court against the city of Sleepy Eye, two of its police officers and the town's newspaper.

Glen Kotten, 25, accuses Sleepy Eye Police Chief John Schueller and officer Justin Bauer of defaming him by fabricating facts in their criminal complaint for his Dec. 1, 2012, arrest for driving offenses. He accused media organizations, including the Sleepy Eye Herald-Dispatch, of defaming him by publishing parts of the disputed complaint. Kotten originally included KNUJ Radio and The New Ulm Journal in his lawsuit but later filed to dismiss them in late February.

In an interview, Kotten accused Sleep Eye police of trying to frame him for crimes that would allow them to seize the vehicle and make a profit. When asked to elaborate on his assertion, he declined further comment.

He claims city and police officials sought to cover up their action instead of addressing his concerns. He said his long-term goal is to have Bauer removed from the police department.

The Sleepy Eye police officers have denied Kotten's accusations in their legal filing.

"The department is vehemently opposing these charges. We're confident that we will prevail," said League of Minnesota Cities attorney Ryan Zipf.

Kotten is seeking $100,000 from Bauer, $1,000 from Schueller and $30 for each "defamatory publication" from the Sleepy Eye Herald-Dispatch, which could total nearly $50,000. He claims the city of Sleepy Eye is liable for any damages he seeks against Bauer and Schueller.

He also originally sought $30,000 from KNUJ, along with requiring they remove the story from their website, and $20 per publication from The Journal, which could have totaled nearly $130,000.

Kotten's complaint

Kotten was originally charged with fleeing a police officer, reckless driving, careless driving and speeding. He pleaded guilty to careless driving and the other charges were dismissed. The charge was dismissed last January after he completed probationary requirements.

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