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ST. PAUL — A federal judge will decide by mid-October whether a lawsuit by a man wrongly suspected of involvement in the 1989 kidnapping of Jacob Wetterling can proceed.

Dan Rassier and his mother are seeking more than $2 million, claiming Stearns County law enforcement officials violated their rights by casting suspicion on Rassier. In 2010, former sheriff John Sanner publicly named Rassier, a neighbor to the Wetterlings, as a person of interest in the case.

Rassier accuses Sanner of ignoring evidence from the FBI gathered shortly after the abduction that pointed to Danny Heinrich — who eventually confessed to the crime. Heinrich was sentenced to 20 years in prison on a child pornography charge after admitting to abducting and killing Jacob.

The county is seeking dismissal of the suit, arguing officials didn’t violate Rassier’s rights or harm him and he waited too long to file a lawsuit.

But Rassier’s attorney, Mike Padden, said the harm to his client was not clear and provable until law enforcement files were released last year.

“You don’t have a cause of action if you claim that law enforcement was just dumb,” he said. “It doesn’t work that way. With the warrant documents we found out they misled the judge. They didn’t provide a full picture.”


Local news editor

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