- Associated Press - Monday, June 16, 2014

HASTINGS, Minn. (AP) - Charges of assault and arson have been dismissed against a suspended Minnesota lawyer accused of setting his longtime girlfriend on fire as she slept in his Burnsville condominium, prosecutors said Monday.

The Dakota County Attorney’s office said David Gherity “has a substantiated alibi at the time this incident occurred.” The case remains under investigation.

Gherity, 61, has maintained he was at work when the woman was attacked on Feb. 9 and said there was video from his office and electronic surveillance from the condo to prove it. He was charged in April with one count of first-degree assault and two counts of first-degree arson, all felonies.

According to the criminal complaint, when firefighters arrived at the condo, the woman was sitting, on fire, at a table. She was hospitalized for more than two months. She lost an ear and also suffered burns to her head, face, neck, legs and one hand.

The woman told authorities that Gherity doused her with hair spray, nail polish and nail polish remover and lit the fire. She said she had been drinking and taking medication, then fell asleep on the couch. The next thing she knew, she awoke to the fire.

But Gherity’s attorney, Robert D. Miller, said a video showed that his client was at work from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the day of the fire.

“They made the correct decision to snuff the case. We’re very pleased to hear that. He’s totally vindicated,” Miller told the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/1pBRrKr ). Miller said Gherity spent more than two months in jail before his bail was reduced and he could afford to pay it.

“He’s elated. He says, ‘I’m a free man now,’” Miller said of Gherity.

Gherity has been in trouble professionally for many years, according to court records. The Minnesota Office of Lawyer’s Professional Responsibility suspended Gherity’s license in 2004. That punishment remains in effect, his attorney confirmed Monday.

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Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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