The Free Press, Mankato, MN

August 27, 2013

Child molester faces new charges

Thuringer in the process of being civilly committed

By Dan Nienaber
The Mankato Free Press

---- — ST. PETER — A former St. Peter man who is in the process of being civilly committed as a sexually dangerous person also is facing prison for allegedly sexually assaulting a pre-teen girl more than 25 years ago.

John Howard Thuringer, 58, was released from prison in February after serving more than 10 years in prison for sexually assaulting a child in Blue Earth County in 1996. He was charged with that crime in 2002 along with three other sexual assault complaints in Nicollet County. All of those incidents spanned from 1993 through 2002.

As soon as Thuringer was placed on intense supervised release by the Department of Corrections, he was taken into custody by Brown County authorities and appeared in court for a petition to have him committed as a sexually dangerous person. After that hearing, District Court Judge Robert Docherty issued an order to have Thuringer temporarily committed in Moose Lake during the commitment process.

There was a trial in June and attorneys from both sides filed their final briefs arguing for and against Thuringer’s commitment earlier this month. The new charges were filed in Nicollet County District Court Aug. 15 but weren’t made public until last week.

The new complaint said a St. Peter police investigator was made aware of the new allegations in June through a separate investigation conducted by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office. Assistant Minnesota General Angela Kiese is the attorney handling the state’s petition to have Thuringer committed.

A St. Peter detective met with the victim June 12, the complaint said. The victim told the detective she had been sexually assaulted by Thuringer when she was a child and living in St. Peter. She said she knew Thuringer when he would enter her room and touch her sexually. The detective determined the victim was under the age of 10 and Thuringer was about 30 years old when the assaults allegedly occurred.

The detective also met with another woman who was a childhood friend of the victim and lived in the same area. She reported that she did not know about the assaults but remembered that the victim would cry frequently and refused to be left alone with Thuringer when they were young.

When the victim’s mother was interviewed, she said Thuringer was left alone with the victim often during the time frame the victim described.

Thuringer also was interviewed by the detective. Thuringer admitted to knowing the victim and being alone with her in the middle 1980s but denied sexually assaulting her.

Three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, all felonies, have been filed against Thuringer in Nicollet County. A date for a first court appearance has not been set, but a warrant has been issued for his arrest if he is released from the custody of Brown County.