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"Are you really the best lawyer Lori has?" George Widseth asks

Hennepin County prosecutor put on leave in sex offender case for personal attacks on opposing counsel

Lori Swanson

Lori Swanson

A Hennepin County prosecutor has been placed on a medical leave of absence for taunting opposing counsel in a case arguing the release of a sex offender from the state’s civil commitment program.

Assistant Hennepin County Attorney George Widseth was assigned to argue for the release of Thomas Duvall, 58. Duvall was convicted three times of sexually assaulting teenage girls in the 1970s and has admitted to attacking at least 60 women.

Gov. Mark Dayton took criticism from many when it was reported that he did not oppose Duvall’s release from the facility in Moose Lake, Minn. Eventually Dayton ordered a stop to the release of all sex offenders until the legislature can devise a solution.

But in emails Widseth made a series of taunts and personal attacks against Alan Gilbert, the State Solicitor General, who is representing the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office in the case.

In an e-mail to Gilbert, Widseth said he was sending him an article on low testosterone. He ended the message with the note “Yours in Christ.” Gilbert is Jewish. In a December email Widseth stepped up his tone.

“Are you REALLY the best lawyer that Lori has? Seriously? I can not wait to spend time in court with you. Remember to bring your script and your minions.”

A spokesman for the Hennepin County attorney’s office said Widseth was removed from the Duvall case as soon as the inflammatory e-mail became public.

“Any time we would have an attorney making personal attacks on an opposing lawyer or officials in the attorney general’s office, we in this office would consider that wrong, unacceptable and unprofessional,” said spokesman Chuck Laszewski.



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