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Minnesota Prosecutor Threatened Sheriff : Bitter Feud Wrecked Child Abuse Case

February 26, 1985|United Press International

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A child abuse investigation that led to two dozen arrests but no convictions was beset with infighting and personality conflicts between Scott County Atty. Kathleen Morris and Sheriff Doug Tietz, state documents said.

In nearly 7,000 pages of Bureau of Criminal Apprehension reports, Morris is pictured as an overbearing prosecutor who screamed obscenities at Tietz and threatened to blame him if the investigation failed.

Tietz charged that Morris "orchestrated a publicity campaign to accelerate her recognition as a public figure." He told a bureau agent that arrests were sometimes timed to occur during her speaking engagements so "she could be interrupted to tell the crowd that new arrests had been brought forth."

Morris arrested two dozen adults during the county investigation and charged them with more than 400 counts of child sexual abuse.

One couple went to trial and was acquitted. Morris dropped charges against 21 other people, saying their prosecution would hamper another investigation involving charges of the murder of children following filming of pornographic movies.

Two weeks ago, Minnesota Atty. Gen. Hubert H. Humphrey III announced that no further charges would be filed. He said the investigation was flawed by excessive interviewing of child witnesses and hasty arrests.

Scott County deputies said in interviews that a personality conflict between Morris and Tietz hampered the county investigation.

At different points in the investigation, Morris entered Tietz's office "screaming at him," calling him obscene names "and telling him not to back out of the investigation or she would blame him if the investigation failed," one detective told the investigating bureau.

Tietz told a bureau agent that he did not believe the children's homicide allegations were credible.

But Morris has remained adamant that child homicides occurred, the reports said, despite the fact that children who told stories of murders later recanted them.

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