Convicted sex offender's pardon request denied

Updated: June 25, 2019 06:41 PM

A sex offender's attempt to receive a pardon for a 1991 conviction was denied Tuesday morning.

The request by Thomas Ondov was made to the Board of Pardons, which is led by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, Attorney General Keith Ellison and Chief Justice Lorie Gildea. Ondov was convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in 1991 involving his then 14-year-old niece.


"I'm hoping that my victim will know that I have lived my life in full understanding and awareness of the harm that I caused her," Ondov testified before the board. "I no longer want to be a sex offender. That is an act that I engaged in at one point in my time and created a victim in abusing my then-niece Amy."

Ondov says his conviction is a "constant stumbling block" in trying to find employment.

His victim strongly opposed a pardon.

"I'm forced to think about what happened to me that night," Amy Frederickson told the board, sobbing and briefly pausing to collect herself.

KSTP typically does not identify victims of sexual assault, however, Fredrickson agreed to have her story shared. 

"That night I was incapacitated and I wasn't able to fight back," she said. "But today I have the opportunity to fight back by being here and telling you how what he did to me effected my life and how I've had to live with it for the last almost 30 years."

The board unanimously denied the pardon request, but not before discussing possible changes Frederickson would like to see to prevent sexual assault victims from having to testify and re-live traumatic experiences.

"I have heard Miss Frederickson's concerns about this process and the position it puts her in and I share those concerns deeply," Walz said, adding that he would support legislation to make changes.

Chief Justice Gildea is open to changes, but says there is value in hearing from victims.

"I think receiving survivor input and victim input has been very important to me as a member of this board," Gildea said.

After the hearing, Frederickson told reporters she was relieved by the rejection of the pardon and the governor's willingness to consider changes.

"I believe him when he says he's going to look at it and talk about making reforms," she said. "That makes me happy. It was worth everything I had to go through if that's what comes out of it."

The Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault issued a statement regarding the Board of Pardons hearing: 

MNCASA has a long history of positive collaboration with former Inver Grove Heights Police Chief Paul Schnell, the new DOC commissioner. Lindsay Brice, our Law and Policy Director has reached out to the DOC to insure that a clear process exists for survivors interacting with the Parole Board and she is confident that any gaps will be addressed as Commissioner Schnell and his team are committed to supporting victims/survivors.

As Minnesota contemplates reconfiguring its pardons process, Wisconsin just wrapped up an overhaul of its pardons board.

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