A Minnesota state representative has abandoned his re-election bid after learning that Minnesota Public Radio News was working with his daughter on a story about her accusations that he inappropriately touched her for years.
In a statement on Friday, state Rep. Jim Knoblach (R) said he learned last week that his 23-year-old daughter, Laura Knoblach, contacted MPR with the accusations, which led him to end his campaign for the Minnesota House of Representatives.
She first publicly accused her father of behaving inappropriately toward her in a December 2016 Facebook post, which has since been deleted. In that post, obtained by MPR News, she said she was “molested as a child and young adult” by her father.
Laura Knoblach, who was a student athlete at the University of Colorado at Boulder, also accused her family members of threatening her and coercing her “into silence about it for almost 15 years.”
MPR News on Friday published a damning report that shed light on her claims of abuse and her family’s attempts to keep her quiet.
On Friday, Jim Knoblach said the allegations were false and described his daughter as estranged from the family. He noted that the accusations were investigated and dismissed by Sherburne County.
“I and other family members have made repeated attempts to reconcile with her in recent years, but she has refused,” he said.
Laura Knoblach told MPR News that her father’s inappropriate behavior started when she was 9 years old. In one instance, she said, he went into her room, got into her bed with her, licked her neck and bit her ear.
She said that kind of behavior happened often, including while they watched movies together on the couch, according to MPR News. In more than 30 instances, she said, he approached her from behind, then pressed his body against hers up against a refrigerator or dishwasher.
This type of abuse continued until she was 21 years old, she told the station.
According to MPR journalist Nina Moini, she first began looking into Laura Knoblach’s claims after the 2016 Facebook post. Moini interviewed Knoblach for four hours in July, reviewed a St. Cloud Police Department investigation into the accusations and spoke with the friends, family members and “trusted adults” whom Knoblach confided in and who were interviewed by police.
Jim Knoblach served in the state House from 1995 to 2007. He was elected to the House again in 2014 and is currently the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
“I could fight on for another six weeks to defend my reputation while running for re-election. But this would entail subjecting my wife, son, and elderly parents, as well as my daughter, to six weeks of extreme stress and scrutiny,” he wrote in a statement released on Friday.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.