By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — A man arrested last week after allegedly using his cellphone to show a pornographic video to a surprised couple has received several warnings from police since 2010.
A criminal complaint filed against 55-year-old Jeffrey Jay Swenson of North Mankato after his arrest Thursday includes charges for incidents dating back to January 2011. The 17 charges, all misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors, include stalking, indecent exposure and exhibiting obscene material.
A North Mankato police officer was first warned about Swenson’s behavior in April 2010, according to a criminal complaint filed against Swenson in Blue Earth County District Court. A Le Sueur police officer called North Mankato police to report Swenson had been at a wayside rest off Highway 169 in Le Sueur on April 6, 2010, when he approached another male and asked for sex.
In May 2010, Swenson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct for that incident. He was fined $180 and paid another $80 in court fees.
The North Mankato officer who was contacted by the Le Sueur officer reported he ran across Swenson at the Happy Chef restaurant off Highway 169 on March 31, 2012. The officer was at the restaurant on break when an employee at the gas station next door stopped in to report a truck driver had complained about a man, later identified as Swenson, who was parked in the area. The truck driver reported Swenson had been holding up a hand-written sign asking for oral sex and playing pornographic videos on a cellphone.
When Swenson was confronted by the officer at about 10:30 p.m., he said he was waiting for his brother. He denied holding up the sign or watching videos. The officer told Swenson he was no longer welcome on the property and would be charged with trespassing if he returned, the complaint said.
A Mankato police officer was sent to the gas station at about 8:50 a.m. on Aug. 19, 2012. A truck driver who had spent the night at the gas station was upset and reported he had seen a man in a vehicle watching pornography, masturbating and attempting to solicit sex from him.
Swenson was identified as the man in the vehicle. When the Mankato officer looked up his name, she found a Jan. 4, 2011, report at about 11:35 p.m. from a man complaining that someone was parked next to him and looking at “nasty” things on a cellphone. The officer who responded to the incident, which was at the Shell gas station near the Highway 14 and Third Avenue intersection, identified the man as Swenson. He told the officer he was playing games on his cellphone.
There also was another report at the same location for July 5, 2012. In that case an officer asked for extra patrol because a man called to report Swenson had been harassing him for about two months. The victim said Swenson was showing him pornographic videos in an area where semi tractor drivers usually parked to rest. That officer confronted Swenson and told him he was not welcome in the area, the complaint said.
All of the incidents are similar to the one that led to Swenson’s arrest Thursday night. A male and female truck driving team reported they were parked at the Wilson Trailer Company off River Drive, which is near the Kwik Trip off Highway 169, when a man parked next to them. They said the man, later identified as Swenson, used his phone to show them pornographic videos.
When a Blue Earth County sheriff’s deputy arrived, Swenson was out of his car and walking toward the cab of the semi tractor. Swenson was arrested and put inside a squad car, but denied having a phone. After the deputy and a Mankato officer failed to find the phone, they asked Swenson to get out of the squad car. A cellphone was found under the seat where Swenson was sitting, the complaint said.