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Minn. state Rep. John Thompson faces calls to resign over allegations of domestic violence, indecent exposure

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 6 days ago Julian Mark
Kristian Bernard driving a car: Minnesota state Rep. John Thompson was stopped by police on July 4 after allegedly driving without a front license plate. Minnesota state Rep. John Thompson was stopped by police on July 4 after allegedly driving without a front license plate.

Minnesota state Rep. John Thompson (D) launched his political career after a police officer shot and killed his friend Philando Castile during a July 2016 traffic stop. Thompson pledged to reform policing in the state and was elected this past November.

Now, less than a year later, state Republican and Democratic officials, including Gov. Tim Walz (D), are calling for Thompson’s ouster after his own recent traffic stop led to new revelations about his past. Since the stop, police reports have surfaced showing that, years ago, Thompson was accused of choking and hitting a girlfriend on multiple occasions and once exposing his genitals to a couple of women while children were present.

“Minnesotans deserve representatives who uphold the highest moral character and share our values,” Walz tweeted on Saturday afternoon. “Following the deeply disturbing reports of domestic violence against multiple women, Rep. Thompson can no longer effectively be that leader and should immediately resign.”

Neither Thompson nor his lawyer responded to a request for comment late on Sunday. But in a statement posted to Facebook earlier in the day, Thompson’s lawyer, Jordan Kushner, said that Thompson “challenges the authenticity” of the police reports and said he believed law enforcement groups provided the documents to news outlets as a part of a long-running “smear campaign.”

Both Thompson and his wife deny the reports, Kushner wrote. “They have been together as a couple for more than twenty years, have worked through issues earlier in their relationship, and have a solid marriage.”

On July 4, a St. Paul police officer pulled Thompson over because he was allegedly driving without a front license plate. During the stop, Thompson noted he was a current state representative. But when the officer looked at Thompson’s license, he was puzzled: The license was from Wisconsin.

The revelation raised questions about whether Thompson lived in the district he represents. His affidavit of candidacy says he does, the Star Tribune reported, and Thompson said in a statement last week that, “I live and work in St. Paul, and have for many years.”

Nonetheless, the episode led a local news station, Fox 9, to investigate Thompson’s residency. In the process, the station discovered police reports detailing four incidents, from 2003 to 2009, that allege Thompson hit, choked and exposed himself to women — sometimes in the presence of young children.


Video: Controversy Grows Following Rep. John Thompson’s St. Paul Traffic Stop (CBS Minnesota)

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The first incident allegedly occurred in Superior, Wis., in October 2003, according to police reports posted online by a Fox 9 reporter. Police responded to reports of a disturbance at a grocery store parking lot, and bystanders pointed to Thompson, a woman and a 5-year-old girl. Thompson allegedly ran away from police but was eventually apprehended. Thompson’s girlfriend told police that he “repeatedly hit her in the face with openhanded and closed fist strikes,” a report states.

Thompson later pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct, the Star Tribune reported.

In August 2004 in Eagan, Minn., a girlfriend alleged Thompson choked her following a dispute, threatening, “I’ll choke you until you can’t breathe anymore.” He allegedly slapped her as she tried to get away. When she tried to call police, she said, Thompson dismantled the phone. Shortly after, when she tried to run out and call for help from a neighbor’s residence, Thompson allegedly dragged her back inside, closing and locking the door as she screamed for help.

As the girlfriend tried to fight back, according to the report, Thompson allegedly punched her in the face and then threw her onto the kitchen table, breaking it.

The woman said her daughter and Thompson’s two sons witnessed the violence. The case was subsequently referred to child protection and the Dakota County attorney for prosecution, Fox 9 reported. It’s unclear if charges were filed.

In September 2009 in St. Paul, Thompson and two women were arguing over a cellphone, according to another police report. Before police arrived, Thompson had allegedly exposed his genitalia, with the women — and two children — in the room.

The Ramsey County attorney declined to file charges, according to the police report.

Six months later, in March 2010, a woman who identified herself as Thompson’s girlfriend of 11 years and the mother of two of his children told St. Paul police that, during an argument with children and other family members present, Thompson exposed himself and made a sexually suggestive comment, according to a police report. As the argument continued, Thompson put his hands around her neck and squeezed, saying, “I’ll choke you until your voice box stops,” she alleged in the report.

Once again, the Ramsey County attorney declined to file charges, citing “poor witness info,” a “delayed 911 call” and the girlfriend saying she did not remember who had been the aggressor in the situation, according to the police report.

It is unclear from the reports whether the incidents involve the same woman or multiple women.

Thompson is also fighting a misdemeanor charge of obstructing the legal process for a 2019 incident in which he allegedly argued with police over their treatment of his friends and family at a hospital, the Star Tribune reported. A jury trial for the case began last week, the paper reported.

After the reports became public, there were swift calls for Thompson’s resignation from both sides of the aisle. Republicans vowed to file complaints against Thompson if he did not resign by Monday, the Star Tribune reported. Minnesota’s Democratic leadership also called for Thompson’s resignation.

“Representative Thompson ran for office to advance progressive policies, but his recent actions, and unacceptable reports of abuse and misconduct, have become an impediment to that work,” Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman (D) and Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (D) said in a joint statement. “We are calling on Representative Thompson to resign immediately.”

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