Former prosecutor calls on Fairmont leaders to audit past domestic cases following 5 INVESTIGATES report

Updated: September 09, 2019 07:48 PM

A former prosecutor and domestic violence advocate is calling on city leaders in Fairmont to do a full audit of past domestic violence cases prosecuted by the city, following a 5 INVESTIGATES report.

Sandi Murphy with the national group Battered Women’s Justice Project believes reviewing the cases is the best way to regain the community’s trust.

Last week, 5 INVESTIGATES aired the report “Out of Time” that found the former Fairmont city attorney sat on at least three dozen criminal cases — including domestic violence — for so long that they can no longer be charged. The three-year statute of limitations on the cases had passed. 

Out of Time: Domestic violence cases can't be charged after city prosecutor sat on dozens of investigations for years

The expired cases came to light after the city parted ways with its long time city attorney, Elizabeth Bloomquist over job performance issues. 

“It’s completely disheartening,” said Murphy in a Skype interview with 5 INVESTIGATES.

Murphy spent nine years as a prosecutor in northern Iowa, handling mostly domestic violence cases. She now serves as the legal and policy advisor for the Battered Women’s Justice Project based in Minneapolis.

Murphy said she has never heard of a prosecutor sitting on cases for so long that they expire.

“It gives me concern about how the office handled domestic violence cases overall,” she said. “I would encourage them to really do a serious look at an audit, if you will, of the prior handling of domestic violence cases in the office… I would want to know how those other cases were handled, what charges were brought, how they resolved.”

When reached for comment, City Administrator Mike Humpal told 5 INVESTIGATES that he and the mayor “would be happy to facilitate a discussion with the Battered Women’s Justice Project” about an audit of the cases.

Three city council members also responded to requests for comment and said they, too, would support an audit of past domestic violence cases. 

The issue is bound to come up during Monday night’s city council meeting — the first meeting since the airing of the report. One of the issues on the agenda is titled “KSTP Report”.

At least one city council member is expected to call for an outside investigation to find out why the council wasn’t notified of expired criminal cases sooner.

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Ryan Raiche

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