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Brandon Stahl, Forum Communications, Published August 16 2012

Police: Duluth legislator won't be charged for sex at rest stop with boy

DULUTH, Minn. – The St. Louis County Attorney’s Office won’t pursue charges in an Interstate 35 rest stop incident last month that police reports show involved state Rep. Kerry Gauthier and a 17-year-old male.

The Minnesota State Patrol and Duluth Police Department earlier this week said that Gauthier, DFL-Duluth, had contact with a state trooper on July 22 at about 11 p.m. at the Thompson Hill rest stop after a “report of suspicious activity.”

Records re-leased Thursday show that the State Patrol and Duluth police investigated Gauthier for allegedly having oral sex with a 17-year-old male at the rest stop.

Gauthier, 56, who on Tuesday told the Duluth News Tribune, “I think it’s a private matter and I don’t need to talk about it,” could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

In an interview with police on July 31, Gauthier said he met the 17-year-old after he posted an ad on Craigslist, according to police reports.

The 17-year-old told an officer he responded to the ad and that he and Gauthier agreed to meet at Thompson Hill, according to the reports. He said they walked to a wooded area behind the rest stop pavilion for five minutes, where they engaged in fondling and oral sex, police reports said.

Both parties told police that the sex was consensual and that no money was exchanged, according to the police reports.

Gauthier told the officer in the interview that the 17-year-old told him he was 18; the 17-year-old also told police that he told Gauthier he was 18.

In explaining why he wouldn’t press charges, County Attorney Mark Rubin said in a memo to Duluth police that the age of consent in Minnesota is 16. The 17-year-old told police that he didn’t know who Gauthier was, meaning Gauthier couldn’t be charged for using his position of authority over a juvenile.

Rubin’s memo made no mention of why charges weren’t filed for allegedly having sex in a public place. But Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said charges wouldn’t be applicable for public nuisance or disorderly conduct because no witness complained about the incident or saw it.

Gauthier was admitted to a Duluth hospital with an unspecified condition on Wednesday, according to Duluth City Councilor Sharla Gardner. Gardner said Gauthier “had trouble breathing” Wednesday morning and was brought to St. Luke’s hospital.

St. Luke’s representative Mary Greene said Thursday that she could “neither confirm nor deny” that Gauthier was at the hospital.

Gauthier represents Minnesota House District 7B, which covers parts of central and all of western Duluth. He was uncontested in the primary but faces Republican Travis Silvers of Duluth in the November general election.

According to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office, a legislative candidate cannot drop out of a race after a primary.

Democrats would not directly comment on the incident immediately.

Forum Communications State Capitol Bureau reporter Don Davis and Duluth News Tribune staff writer Mike Creger contributed to this report.

Brandon Stahl reports for the Duluth News Tribune