- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Former Hastings priest acquitted of abusing altar boy

HASTINGS, Minn. (AP) - An ex-priest has been acquitted on charges that he sexually abused an altar boy at a Hastings church almost 30 years ago.

The St. Cloud Times reports (https://on.sctimes.com/1FNPSQR) that Francis Hoefgen broke down and sobbed with friends and family after the not guilty verdicts were read Tuesday. He left without commenting.

The 36-year-old Red Wing man who accused Hoefgen of abuse from 1989 to 1992 hung his head in his hands after the verdicts came down. He left before the session ended.

Hoefgen was charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The jury deliberated about three hours.

The 64-year-old was accused of abusing the former altar boy when Hoefgen was associate pastor at St. Boniface Church in Hastings. Hoefgen is a former St. John’s Abbey monk and priest.


After Dayton vetoes, state leaders start search for way out

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Picking up where the legislative session ended, Gov. Mark Dayton and House Speaker Kurt Daudt began their search Tuesday for a way out of Minnesota’s latest budget impasse that has made a special session a certainty and a partial government shutdown a possibility.

The Democratic governor and Republican legislative leader met for an hour with a promise to reconvene Wednesday. Afterward, they voiced a joint desire for a swift resolution for reviving three vetoed budget bills and two other measures lawmakers failed to pass in time. Dayton was to meet later with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk about the budget bills and other items considered unfinished during the regular legislative session.

Late last week, Dayton struck down bills covering public school funding, agriculture and natural resources programs and economic development programs. He considered the school spending too meager and took issue with some major policy changes in the other two. Dayton issued a list of more than a dozen “special session priorities” for adding provisions to or subtracting them from the bills he vetoed.

“We want to be flexible and we want to get the work done that Minnesotans expect us to get done,” Daudt said. “If that means we have to give a little bit, we’ll have to do that as well.”

Daudt said Republicans might ask for the inclusion of some of their priorities, such as teacher tenure law changes they advanced earlier this year.


Appeals court: Criminal defamation law is unconstitutional

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that a state law making it illegal to defame someone is unconstitutional because it’s too broad.

The decision reverses the conviction of Timothy Turner, who was found guilty of criminal defamation after he posted sexually explicit Internet ads in 2013 that appeared to be posted by his ex-girlfriend and her underage daughter. The ads led multiple men to contact both females for sex; some sent pornographic images to the girl.

Turner admitted he posted the ads because he was mad.

The judges found Minnesota’s criminal defamation law violates the First Amendment because it allows for the prosecution of true statements, which are protected speech, as well as false statements. They also found it doesn’t require the state to prove “actual malice,” knowledge that a statement is false or made with reckless disregard for the truth.

The appeals court said that “although the appellant’s conduct was reprehensible and defamatory, we cannot uphold his conviction under an unconstitutional statute.”


Bird flu returns to Minnesota with 6 newly infected farms

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Bird flu returned to Minnesota after more than a week without a new case, as presumptive positive test results came back Tuesday from six turkey farms.

The new detections announced by the Minnesota Board of Animal Health included the first case in Brown County, a farm with 46,800 turkeys. They also included three new outbreaks at turkey farms in Kandiyohi and two in Renville counties.

The new cases raise the state’s total to 94 farms affected in 22 counties, including 36 in Kandiyohi, the top turkey-producing county in the nation’s No. 1 turkey-producing state.

Avian influenza has now cost Minnesota turkey and chicken producers over 8 million birds - but that total doesn’t include the losses from five of the newly infected farms that were still being counted.

Until Tuesday, Minnesota had gone 10 straight days with no reports of new cases.

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