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

Updated: September 03, 2019 07:54 PM

A prosecutor in southern Minnesota sat on dozens of criminal investigations for years, including cases involving drunk driving and domestic assault that can no longer be charged because the statute of limitations have expired, according to public records reviewed by 5 INVESTIGATES

Elizabeth Bloomquist, the now-former city attorney in Fairmont, Minnesota, allowed the three-year statute of limitations to expire on at least 36 cases that were referred to her by police for prosecution dating back to 2012.

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Elizabeth Bloomquist spent more than 30 years as the city attorney in Fairmont. She reached a separation agreement this spring after concerns were raised about her job performance. As part of the agreement, she will continue to earn her full salary through mid-November. 

Bloomquist, the city attorney for 30 years in the small town near the Iowa border, did not return multiple calls for comment and did not come to her door at her home just outside of Fairmont.

The findings outraged Nicole Dawson, a domestic abuse victim who was unaware that the criminal investigation into her former boyfriend sat on Bloomquist's desk for years.

"It makes me mad. I wish someone would have done something," she said. "I wish someone would have stuck up for me."

Nicole Dawson was 18 when she reported to Fairmont Police that her then-boyfriend attacked her during a drunken-rage.

Dawson was 18 when she went to Fairmont Police Department in October 2013 to report that her boyfriend prevented her from calling for help after he pulled her hair and slapped her in the face during a drunken-rage. In an interview with the investigating officer obtained by 5 INVESTIGATES, Dawson practically begged for help.

"I want to press charges because I haven't every other time. I'm pissed off!" She said to the officer.

In a police report sent to the city attorney, the investigating officer requested "charges for fifth-degree domestic assault."

But the case was not charged, sent back for further investigation or even dismissed. It just sat there… for years.


Here's a breakdown of the cases:


"I feel like I got screwed," Dawson, now 24, said. "I think the city owes a lot of people an explanation. Not just me."

In at least ten cases that Bloomquist allowed to expire, the suspects went on to commit similar types of crimes, according to court records reviewed by 5 INVESTIGATES. 

Dawson's ex-boyfriend was later convicted of four other domestic violence-related offenses. 

His sentence in those cases could have been more severe if the investigation from October 2013 had been successfully prosecuted and added to his record.

"Maybe those things wouldn't have happened if it would have been taken care of and he wouldn't have gotten away with it," Dawson said.

 "NOW IT'S TOO LATE"

The expired cases came to light earlier this spring after the city parted ways with Bloomquist due to concerns over her job performance. The city asked Martin County Attorney Terry Viesselman to prosecute Bloomquists' cases.

That's when the bigger issue surfaced.

"You shouldn't let the statute of limitations expire, and I'm sure Ms. Bloomquist would say the same thing," he said. "Now, it's too late."

Viesselman said he alerted city officials after learning dozens of cases could no longer be charged.

"The statute of limitations is your deadline," Viesselman said. "If you haven't got it done before the statute of limitations, then you probably made a mistake."

But in an interview with 5 INVESTIGATES outside of his office, Mike Humpal, Fairmont's city administrator, would not acknowledge whether a mistake was actually made.

"I'm still trying to determine whether it was or was not," Humpal said. 

Humpal said he has not had time to personally review the cases in question despite being made aware of the concerns months ago.

"I don't know what the cases included," Humpal said. "I don't have a good handle on, nor did I have a good handle on what the cases were."

After 5 INVESTIGATES started requesting city records, Humpal also started facing questions from city council members who feel they were not fully informed when they approved the separation agreement with Bloomquist back in May. As part of that agreement, Bloomquist will be able to collect on her salary until mid-November.

At a recent city council meeting, Humpal denied having any previous knowledge of the expired cases.

However, Councilman Tom Hawkins says an outside investigation may be needed.

"It just seems very unreasonable to think that nobody in city hall knew this was happening," Hawkins said.

Ashley Clemens contributed to this story. 

Ryan Raiche can be reached by email here or by calling 651-642-4544.

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