By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer
— A former Lutheran pastor from a church in rural Gibbon has lost an appeal that could have reduced his felony conviction for sexually assaulting a foreign exchange student.
When David Edwin Radtke, 53, went to trial in Sibley County in October 2011, the jury was allowed to watch a video recording of a confession he made to a detective in Wisconsin after he was arrested there the previous May. He had traveled to Wisconsin for a job interview the day after a 16-year-old foreign exchange student accused him of sexually penetrating her with his finger.
The girl had been staying with Radtke’s family at his former residence near Gibbon. They were on a couch together when he started caressing her legs. The girl fell asleep and woke up while she was being assaulted.
When Radtke was interviewed by the Wisconsin detective, he admitted to intentionally putting his hand under the girl’s shorts. He denied penetration but said the victim could have perceived that. Radtke also said it was an intentional sexual act and agreed that it was done for sexual arousal.
Radtke was eventually extradited to Minnesota to face two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. After watching the Wisconsin confession, hearing the victim’s testimony and reviewing other evidence, the Sibley County jury found him guilty of both counts.
District Court Judge Thomas McCarthy sentenced Radtke to a stay of imposition with the conditions he complete 15 years of probation, pay $1,000 in victim assistance and serve 180 days in jail. Radtke also is registered as a sex offender in Kansas, where he lives now.
In his appeal, Radtke’s attorney argued that his Wisconsin confession shouldn’t have been heard by the jury because he had been detained illegally. The attorney also argued that the victim’s testimony wasn’t sufficient to convict him of a third-degree level offense.
The reason Radtke said he had been illegally detained is that he didn’t appear before a Wisconsin judge within 36 hours as required by law. His attorney used case law to say that the extra delay of about 90 minutes was a violation of Radtke’s constitutional rights.
The appeals court ruled it wasn’t a constitutional issue. It also found McCarthy had legal grounds to allow the evidence despite the short delay.
The appeals court also said it wouldn’t second guess the jury’s assessment of the victim’s testimony, even though evidence was presented that said she told a school official and a friend she might have dreamed that she had been penetrated. Her testimony at the trial made it clear she didn’t believe it was a dream.