U of M professor pleads guilty to domestic assault

April 18, 2019 09:14 PM

Well-known University of Minnesota professor Aaron Doering, 47, pleaded guilty to domestic assault by strangulation on Thursday, as well as to violating a domestic abuse no contact order. 

The guilty plea is part of a deal with prosecutors. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 19. 


A release from the Hennepin County Attorney's Office said Doering will serve 180 days in the Hennepin County Workhouse. He will then serve two years of probation. If that is completed successfully, he will not have to serve the remaining 185 days of a stayed 365-day sentence.

Doering is an internationally recognized explorer and a leading voice on climate change.

The charges stem from an incident on Dec. 26 of last year when a woman accused him of beating her inside their northeast Minneapolis apartment.

Prosecutors said he dragged and choked the woman, leaving her with bruises and fearing for her life.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS is not identifying the victim in that case, but two other women say Doering physically abused them as well.

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In 2017, former fiancée Nina Orezzoli told St. Paul police that Doering beat her on two occasions, including once in a hotel room in Amsterdam. But there were no charges because the alleged attack happened overseas.

Orezzoli was in the courtroom when Doering entered his plea to the current charges.

"This is a huge victory," Orezzoli said. "Whatever punishment (he receives) doesn't matter to me. What I wanted, which is the same thing I wanted after the first time he hit me, is for him to take accountability."

Doering did not make a statement after coming out of court, but in an email to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, his attorney Christa Groshek wrote:

"This was a very advantageous plea offer for Mr. Doering. Mr. Doering will not be convicted of a felony. The State offered him a plea to the charges with a gross misdemeanor sentence.  

"As part of the plea agreement, Mr. Doering entered a Norgaard plea, where he did not admit the allegations, but rather admitted that the State could prevail at trial.  

"By way of the plea agreement, he did not challenge the State's evidence."  

The University of Minnesota did not offer any additional comment on Thursday and will only say Doering - a tenured professor who is paid a salary of about $114,000 - is "on leave."

A spokesperson would not disclose whether Doering is still being paid while on leave.

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Eric Rasmussen

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