Forum staff reports, Published August 31 2011
Police: Predatory rapist returning today to Moorhead after release from prison
MOORHEAD – A high-risk sex offender who raped a 13-year-old girl while she babysat her younger siblings is returning to Moorhead today, prompting police to put out a notice to notify residents.
Danny Fitzgerald Cole-man, a 46-year-old Level III predatory offender, will be moving to the 1900 block of First Avenue South in Moorhead.
According to police, Coleman raped the 13-year-old Moorhead girl after gaining access to the victim while knocking on several doors in the neighborhood.
Police said Coleman used force and threats to gain compliance from the girl, who did not know him.
He will be required to wear a GPS monitoring device.
At a sentencing hearing in November 2003, the girl’s mother said Coleman was given to too little time for the crime committed.
Under a plea agreement, Clay County District Judge Michael Kirk sentenced Coleman to 12 years, the same sentence Coleman likely would have received under state guide-lines had he been convicted at trial.
“I think it’s the best they (prosecutors) can do, but it will never be enough,” the girl’s mother said following the hearing. “You take a child’s innocence, what’s left for them?”
In Minnesota, prison inmates are placed on supervised release after serving two-thirds of their sentence, unless they get into trouble in prison.
In 2003, Coleman pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct, admitting that he raped a 13-year-old girl in a south Moorhead home Aug. 1 while she was baby-sitting her younger siblings at the time.
Coleman said he knocked on the door of the home about 1 a.m., asked for money and entered the house after the girl opened the door. He then assaulted her.
The girl told police the man grabbed her throat and told her, “If you don’t do what I say, I’ll choke you to death.”
After the attack, he left the home and the girl’s mother returned home two to five minutes later.
About an hour before the attack, Moorhead police searched the area after a caller reported someone ringing a doorbell.
On the way to the assault call, police received another call about someone knocking on a window in the same area.
Moments later, officers saw man riding a bike and stopped him. The girl then identified him as her attacker.
During the sentencing hearing, the victim’s mother said her daughter went from a sweet, gentle child to an angry, depressed child whose grades have been falling since the attack.
“Anger doesn’t even come close to how I feel,” she told Coleman. “Our home is now a prison because she (the victim) is so scared.”
Lisa Borgen, a judge who was Clay County attorney at the time, said there is “no satisfactory outcome in a situation like this… It was a horrible case.”
Nine days before the attack, Coleman was released from the Fergus Falls Mental Health Regional Treatment Center. During the November 2003 court hearing, Coleman said he planned to seek treatment.
“I’ll be a better man,” he said, and he asked the victim and her family to forgive him.
“In a case such as this,” Judge Kirk told Coleman, “forgiveness doesn’t come easy, if at all.”
The father of the victim described his daughter as someone who would do anything for anybody.
"She’s God’s gift,” he said eight years ago. “It (the sentence) is not going to take care of it. He (Coleman) doesn’t deserve to be a part of any society.”