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Brandon Stahl

Reporter | Newsroom
Phone: 612-673-4626
Location: Minneapolis
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Brandon Stahl is the federal courts and agencies reporter for the Star Tribune. He previously covered Hennepin county courts and was an investigative reporter at the paper, writing extensively about criminal justice, police and child protection. You can reach Stahl on Signal: 612-467-9841.

In more than a dozen years as a journalist, Stahl's stories on medical malpractice, nursing care failures, child protection and law enforcement handling of sex crimes has resulted in numerous calls for reform and changes in state laws, as well as state and national journalism awards.
Recent content from Brandon Stahl

Minnesota congressional members reintroduce sexual assault bill named for U student

Two Minnesota congressional members this week are reintroducing bipartisan sexual assault legislation named after a former University of Minnesota student-turned-activist whose rape case brought national…
Jake Thomas Patterson has been arrested in the kidnapping of Jayme Closs and the murder of her parents, officials said.

Jake Patterson: Suspected killer, kidnapper's life remains a mystery

Jake Patterson had no criminal record or social media footprint.

Shutdown could hit Minn. advocacy groups for victims of abuse, sexual assault

Victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault could face a loss of services.
Farass Adnan Ali (Facebook)

Minnesota judge: Refugee held for 18 months not a threat, must be released

No terror threat has been proved, federal ruling says.
Hoping others receive justice they were denied led many women to add their voices to the series investigating failed rape investigations.

When rape is reported and something happens

As dozens more women have stepped forward to tell their stories, reforms are underway in Minnesota. Victim advocates and rape survivors say they are heartened by the pledges of reform by police leaders, prosecutors and lawmakers.
Crystal Police Chief Stephanie Revering leads the workgroup. “We have to recognize that victims have gone through a traumatic event and make sure we

New rules for Minnesota police on rape calls

Law enforcement officers responding to sexual assaults in Minnesota would be expected to follow strict new protocols — including the best ways to gather evidence and interview victims — under a draft policy prepared for the state's police licensing board.
Hennepin County’s new ‘restorative court’ will allow to those charged with minor offenses to clear their record if they follow treatment and oth

Hennepin County's 'restorative court' to help people charged with minor crimes

Hennepin County expands homeless court to wider range of defendants, low-level crimes.
MNsure logo. ORG XMIT: MIN1703201622012504 ORG XMIT: MIN1705121252072706

Despite ACA ruling, nothing changes for Minnesota

With the ruling likely to be appealed, it will likely take months for it to go through the court process.
When detective Justin Boardman realized he was failing sex assault victims, he decided to change — himself and his entire department in Utah.

A better way to investigate rape

Utah's shift is a promising sign of how a state can do more to help rape victims get the justice that so often eludes them — if everyone involved is working with the same priorities.
Survivors Rachel Radford, left, and Emma Top each knew their assailant and saw him sentenced, but both came away feeling the punishment was not severe

Convicted for rape in Minnesota, free from prison time

Felons spend less time in prison in Minnesota, and the state says that's by design.
Nichole Sipes of the St. Paul Police Department participated in the rape investigations task force, which met Tuesday at the Minnesota State Capitol i

Minn. task force sees 'systemic' shortcomings with rape cases

State task force appointed by Attorney General Lori Swanson points to action required by Legislature, judiciary, law enforcement, prosecutors and public.
Alesha Erickson was photographed in her apartment Sept. 21, 2018 in Mountain Iron, Minn. She was raped in a different unit in the building and moved t

Special Report: A victim heard, justice served

Many sexual assault reports in Minnesota are poorly investigated. Most don't result in charges or convictions. This one was different.
Bradley Traaseth asked authorities multiple times to file charges against the men suspected of raping his daughter, Hannah. He was unsuccessful.

Minnesota rape cases: Rejected by the prosecution

In Minnesota, half of sex assault cases police send to prosecutors never result in charges. Prosecutors reject cases that include DNA evidence, witnesses, and sometimes even confessions, records show.
“You’re dealing with physical evidence, emotion, trauma. This is more than going to a burglary," Hastings Police Chief Bryan Schafer said.

Police undertrained and overwhelmed by rape cases in Minnesota

Inadequate training for police who investigate sexual assaults, along with poor staffing and high turnover, plagues many police departments across the state – resulting in fewer charges against suspected offenders.
Tim Bildsoe led the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board, during a vote in 2017. “Everything is on the table,” Bildsoe said in an int

Minnesota police board promises steps to improve sex assault investigations

POST Board will prepare officer training standards and a model policy for sex assault investigations.
Minnesota defines consent as voluntary, but its exceptions for being too drunk to agree to sex are narrow.

How alcohol foils rape investigations

Police are less likely to interview witnesses, assign cases to a detective or forward them to a prosecutor if the victim was drinking, according to a Star Tribune analysis. When cases involving alcohol do reach prosecutors, suspects are much less likely to be charged with a crime or convicted.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman plans several measures to improve the way his office and Minneapolis police pursue sexual assault cases.

Freeman pledges to strengthen sex assault investigations

The Hennepin County attorney said he was surprised at how many cases seem to go nowhere.
These women stepped forward with harrowing stories of being raped, then watched in shock as investigators did little or nothing to pursue their cases.

Frey pledges 'care and compassion' for sex assault victims

Minneapolis mayor was responding to a report showing chronic failings in sex assault investigations in Minnesota.
These women stepped forward with harrowing stories of being raped, then watched in shock as investigators did little or nothing to pursue their cases.

Public officials call sexual assault stories 'horrific'

Lawmakers, prosecutors respond to report on breakdowns in assault investigations.
These women stepped forward with harrowing stories of being raped, then watched in shock as investigators did little or nothing to pursue their cases.

When rape is reported in Minnesota and nothing happens

A Star Tribune examination of more than 1,000 recent sexual assault cases shows pervasive failings by law enforcement — neglecting to interview witnesses, collect crucial evidence, or conduct criminal background checks on suspects. Many cases were never even assigned to an investigator.
State Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, in a March 2015 file photo.

State rep accused by advocate of unwanted touching; he says it was not sexual

Following allegations against Rep. Rod Hamilton, Republican leaders of the state House have suspended him as committee chairman.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman described the charges against Minneapolis Police officer Mohamed Noor in the shooting death of Justin Ruszczyk D

Key question: Was Noor fearful during Damond shooting?

Noor's partner said he "perceived his life was in danger" and pulled his gun, according to charges.
FILE - In this May 2016 file image provided by the City of Minneapolis, police officer Mohamed Noor poses for a photo at a community event welcoming h

Grand jury testimony begins in Noor shooting case

The list of officers summoned to testify before a grand jury Tuesday indicates that Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman is trying to meet the legal standard to charge Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor in the shooting death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, legal experts say.
Reggie Lynch

Dates set for Lynch appeal hearing; attorney says they're too soon

Hearing dates are set for early February for suspended University of Minnesota basketball player Reggie Lynch to appeal findings he was responsible for sexual misconduct against two women.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman

Mike Freeman convenes grand jury in Damond shooting death

The Hennepin County attorney reversed course in the case of a Minneapolis police officer who shot Justine Damond in an alley after she had called 911 to report a possible crime.
Megan Cater

2 south metro women plead guilty to murder for role in fatal drug robbery

The young women avoid life in prison for a drug robbery that went awry.
Gregory Matthew Dolphin credit: Hennepin County Sheriff

Businessman suffering from brain disease sentenced to home monitoring for child porn

Greg Dolphin, 63, sentenced to year of home monitoring.
Atwater Police Chief Reed Schmidt with his then K-9 partner, Dakota.

Obituary: Reed Schmidt, Atwater's former police chief, dies at 67

Jerry Spencer remembers sitting on the Atwater City Council in the mid-1990s, conducting interview after interview in search of a new police chief for the central Minnesota town, population 1,100. Reed Schmidt stood out. Social, friendly and outgoing, "he just seemed like the man for the position," Spencer said.
Thomas Incantalupo

Ice skating coach charged with sexually assaulting 14-year-old student

Thomas Joseph Incantalupo, 47, is accused of abusing the girl, now 16, beginning in August 2015.
Attorney Ryan Pacyga, who is now representing University of Minnesota basketball star Reggie Lynch accused of sexual misconduct, held a news conferenc

Lawyer: Gophers' Lynch denies allegations, requests hearing

The appeals process would likely take weeks if not months, making it unlikely Lynch will return to the court for the university, where investigators have recommended that he should be expelled.
Reggie Lynch

Expulsion recommended for Lynch in third sex assault allegation

University of Minnesota basketball player Reggie Lynch has been recommended for expulsion after a third woman has come forward accusing him of sexual assault.
Nathan Lehman was sentenced to 61 years in prison Monday for the murder of his parents.

Man who murdered his parents in Eden Prairie gets 61-year sentence

Lehman's family filled the right half of a court gallery on Monday morning as a judge sentenced him to 61 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder.
The woman whose accusations led to the suspension of Gophers basketball player Reggie Lynch isn’t the first to allege he engaged in sexual misconduc

Another Reggie Lynch accuser 'happy this kind of conduct is being exposed'

Lynch denied rape allegation and was cleared by prosecutors and police.
Gophers center Reggie Lynch was found responsible by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) in sexual misconduct on April 28, 2

Gophers' Lynch faces suspension until 2020

A University of Minnesota office investigated after an incident on April 28, 2016, in Roy Wilkins Hall, a student dorm. Unless Lynch appeals, his suspension from the campus and related activities will begin Tuesday.
Jaime Edward McClellan

Heroin dealer gets 11 years in prison in Hennepin County for overdose death

Jaime McClellan, 33, apologizes to victim's family during sentencing.
schlotfeldt, tyler,booking mugBrooklyn Park man pleads guilty for role in Minneapolis Taco Bell shootoutSummary: Tyler Schlotfeldt-Gidney, 22, faces t

Brooklyn Park man pleads guilty for role in Minneapolis Taco Bell shootout

Tyler Schlotfeldt-Gidney, 22, faces three years in prison.
Supporters of the $15 minimum wage increase showed their support before it was passed by City Council at City Hall, Friday, June 30, 2017 in Minneapol

Minn. Chamber, others pull out of Mpls. minimum wage lawsuit

Only Graco Inc. is left in lawsuit to prevent the city of Minneapolis from raising the minimum wage to $15.
FILE - In this April 26, 2017 file photo, Hennepin county attorney Mike Freeman appears at a news conference in Minneapolis, Minn. Freeman, a Minnesot

No decision in Damond shooting until next year, Freeman says

The county attorney had said a decision on charges was expected by Dec. 31, but the investigation isn't finished, he said.

Metro-area Massage Envy employee accused of sex assault

Two customers accused Mitchell Le Doc Ho, 28, of assault while giving them massages.
Joel Andrew Paulson

Charges: Man drunk while playing with a gun shoots, kills his friend in St. Paul

Josh Andrew Paulson, 31, is charged with manslaughter.
Abby Honold, one of the three woman raped by Daniel Drill-Mellum, told her story on September 22, 2016, in St. Paul.

Bipartisan 'Abby Honold Act' would reform training for sex assault investigators

Bill would create a training program for better police interviews of rape survivors.

Search warrant: Mother drunk, blood throughout Brooklyn Park home where newborn died

The girl's mother called police and said "she's dead," according to the search warrant application filed by police.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman

County attorney apologizes for criticizing BCA in Justine Damond case

County attorney said he will "share news" about Damond shooting probe next week.
Gov. Mark Dayton defended the work of the BCA on Friday, saying: "Impugning the quality of their investigations is destructive, and detrimental in our

Gov. Dayton defends BCA after criticism of Damond probe

The governor praised the statewide investigative agency for its diligence, saying the Hennepin County attorney's criticism is "destructive."
In September, City Council member from Ward 13, Linea Palmisano, hosted an event where Mike Freeman answered questions about the Justine Damond shooti

Freeman: No evidence yet to prosecute officer in Justine Damond's death

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman told a group of activists that he does not yet have the evidence to file charges in the shooting death of Justine Damond.
Former Minneapolis cop Christopher Reiter listened Tuesday as his defense attorney Robert Fowler asked Judge Fred Karasov for a lighter sentence for h

Ex-Mpls. cop given 6 months in workhouse for on-duty assault

Christopher Reiter, 36, received the maximum allowable sentence under state guidelines for delivering blow to the head of Mohamed Osman in May 2016, knocking him unconscious and inflicting brain bleeding.
In this Aug. 11, 2017, file photo, Johnna Morrow plays the didgeridoo during a memorial service for Justine Damond in Minneapolis. Damond was killed b

Mpls. police bracing for backlash over officer in Justine Damond's death

Police chief expects heated reaction whether or not officer Mohamed Noor is charged in her fatal shooting.
Saado Ali Warsame not only sang with passion about her home country of Somalia, she agreed to serve in its Parliament.

Lawsuit by son of slain Somali activist against money transfer business is thrown out

Case alleged that big money-transfer firm helped fund killers of famed activist.

Plymouth paramedic pleads '100% guilty' to stealing painkillers

Robert Ryan Lien, 37, admitted to replacing painkiller meant for patients with saline.

Mpls. marriage, family therapist charged with having child porn

Police say man, 72, had at least 158 files on laptop.
Dr. Shane Wernsing

Hennepin County's go-to expert can sway insanity cases

Prosecutors often call on doctors like Wernsing when they want the offender to be prosecuted rather than committed.
Anenia Hare

Minneapolis woman charged with killing Thanksgiving guest for smoking crack

A Minneapolis woman was charged with second-degree murder on Monday, accused of killing a Thanksgiving guest apparently for smoking crack in her apartment without asking…
Sen. Al Franken and Abby Honold looked on in October 2017 as Beth Roberts, a retired police officer, talked about legislation aimed toward better trai

Advocate for rape victim bill distances herself from Franken

Abby Honold, a rape survivor, was working with Franken on a bill to help victims. But after allegations surfaced against the senator, Honold sought another senator to help with the legislation. Now, she's being harassed and threatened with rape.
On Thursday, Leeann Tweeden appeared on "The View" and read from what she said was a personal apology letter from Sen. Al Franken.

Dismay, support, confusion follow Franken apology for behavior

As some former allies call for a resignation, the woman who reported that Sen. Al Franken kissed and groped at her without permission in 2006 said he has sent her a personal apology.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says the trend reflects a shift in priorities away from petty thefts, loitering, minor drug offenses and similar

Focus on serious crime is driving surge in Hennepin felony cases

What's shaping up to be a record year stresses the system — from jails to courtrooms and public defenders.

Prior Lake man pleads guilty to sex assault at bar near U

A Prior Lake man accused of sexually assaulting a woman at a popular bar near the University of Minnesota pleaded guilty on Tuesday. Benjamin E.…

Minneapolis school bus driver accused of raping sex worker in Bloomington hotel

A Minneapolis school bus driver is accused of raping a prostitute at knife point in a Bloomington hotel room. The sex worker told police that…
Mendota Heights police Sgt. Eric Petersen stands with 4-year-old Gabriel Abdirahman after the department threw the boy a surprise birthday party.

Surprise! Mendota Heights police throw birthday party for 3-year-old boy

Mendota Heights Sgt. Eric Petersen arranges a birthday party for a boy he met on the job.
Kenneth Sonnenfeld Jr.

Anoka County jury acquits teacher of molestation charges

Kenneth Sonnenfeld Jr., 54, had been accused of touching a student.

Blaine mother charged with passing out high on meth with kids in car

Records show child protection could have removed kids from mother's care earlier.
Trevor Schlotfeldt-Gidney

Accused gang member charged with threatening Minneapolis cop

Trevor Deontre Schlotfeldt-Gidney, 22, allegedly made the threats on Facebook after the off-duty officer would not allow Young N' Thuggin' gang members into a nightclub.

Champlin foster mother charged with injuring 7-week-old boy

Melissa Anne Sondrol is accused of causing several fractures to boy in her care.

Worker at Massage Envy in Edina charged with sex assault

A worker at Massage Envy in Edina has been charged with sexual assault after one of his clients accused him of touching her under her…
The explosion Aug. 2 at the Minneapolis school wounded nine and killed part-time custodian John F. Carlson and receptionist Ruth Berg.

Suit: Workers ran, didn't warn others before Minnehaha blast

Ruth Berg's daughter and mother blame CenterPoint Energy and contractors for her death. Their lawsuit alleges that the contractors "ran to save themselves."
Charles Beck

Charles Beck, renowned woodcut print artist, dies at 94

Charles Beck started selling his drawings in grade school for candy and marbles growing up in Fergus Falls. Some 90 years later, his prints and…
Tip left at a restaurant

Workers can't be fired for refusing to share tips, state court rules

Todd Burt worked as a bartender at Bunny's in St. Louis Park. and was told that he needed to give more of his tips to table bussers, and there "would be consequences if that did not happen."
The apartment building at the corner of 15th and Park Ave. S. where after a fire broke out Friday night and a man jumped from his third story apartmen

Charges: 'Everyone is going to die' suspect said before setting Mpls. fire

One Mpls. apartment dweller died, second hurt.
New Orleans Saints running back Adrian Peterson seen on Aug. 10. Minneapolis-based Crown Bank has filed a lawsuit against Peterson seeking $602,726 ov

Lawsuit: Adrian Peterson owes $600,000 on defaulted loan

Former Viking still owes $600,000, says Crown Bank
Former Minneapolis police officer Christopher Reiter, 36, arrived at court with his attorney Robert Fowler, not pictured, Thursday, March16, 2017, at

Jury convicts former Minneapolis cop of on-duty assault

Christopher Reiter kicked a domestic violence suspect in the face in May 2016.
Danny Bettcher

Despite 27 DWIs, how did Danny Bettcher get a license?

Danny Lee Bettcher had a valid driver's license when he got his 28th DWI.
Robert James Kuefler

Long dead bodies of mom, brother found in White Bear Lake man's home

Though deaths were natural causes, Robert James Kuefler accused of concealing the bodies.
Former Minneapolis police officer Christopher Reiter, 36, right, arrives at court with his attorney Robert Fowler in March. Reiter is accused of kicki

Question of knife is focus of fired Minneapolis officer's assault trial

Christopher Reiter testifies and says he kicked man to protect partner.
Former Minneapolis police officer Christopher Reiter, 36, right, arrives at court with his attorney Robert Fowler Thursday, March 16, 2017, at the Hen

Assault trial opens for ex-Minneapolis cop caught on video kicking man in face

Christopher Reiter was caught on video kicking Mohamed Osman.
Christopher OBrien Bogan

Level 3 sex offender charged with rape, attempted rape in south Mpls.

Christopher Bogan went to prison in 2008 after a stranger rape of a teenage girl.
Police discovered the two bodies in this home on the 2200 block of Bayview Place in Orono on Monday night.

Murder-suicide suspected in hanging of woman, boy, 5, in Orono home

A woman listed as being the homeowner was involved in a custody battle.
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