House Minority Leader Paul Thissen is asking a fellow Democratic legislator to not seek re-election after a police investigation uncovered that he had a sexual encounter with a 17-year-old boy at a Duluth rest area.
“I am deeply disappointed with Rep. Kerry Gauthier’s conduct,” Thissen said in a statement. “The conduct was wrong and no one in the DFL House caucus condones the behavior.”
Gauthier, a DFLer from Duluth, was admitted to a local hospital for shortness of breath last Wednesday as results of the investigation became public. Thissen said he finally had a chance to talk with Gauthier since his release from the hospital over the weekend.
“As I shared with Rep. Gauthier, I believe he should withdraw from the race for re-election,” said Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis.
Gauthier has not responded to countless interview requests the last few days. Not more details were available on the extent or severity of his illness.
Thissen is the most high-profile elected Democrat asking him to not seek a second term. A growing number of GOP legislators and party officials have demanded Gauthier resign immediately.
After the investigation became public, Duluth City Council member Jay Fosle announced he would wage a write-in campaign for Gauthier's seat. Republican Travis Silvers is also running for the seat, in a solidly DFL district.
Last week, the St. Louis County Attorney’s office decided not to pursue charges against Gauthier for engaging in oral sex with a 17-year-old male. The county attorney opted not to press charges because the age of consent is 16.
Gauthier and the boy, who is not named because he is a minor, told authorities the sex was consensual and no money changed hands during the incident July 22.
The teenager had responded to Gauthier's ad on Craigslist seeking a romantic encounter.