A former Chisago County sheriff was charged Friday in a case where he allegedly demanded a female colleague travel with him to a training course and stay overnight with him at a hotel.
Rick Duncan, 53, of Chisago City, was charged in Chisago County District Court with stalking and threats of violence — both felonies — and misconduct of a public employee.
Duncan, who was campaigning for a third term as sheriff, unexpectedly resigned last summer, citing medical issues, one day after he admitted to investigators that he was behind a bizarre scheme where he allegedly wrote threatening letters to a female crime analyst who worked in the sheriff’s office.
Duncan told the woman that he had received letters from someone calling themselves “Control Freak,” who wanted to control her and the sheriff, according to the criminal complaint.
The letter directed the woman to go with Duncan to a training course in Bemidji and stay overnight with him at a hotel or risk harm to their families, according to the complaint. It also directed her to refrain from telling her husband or reporting the matter.
Over the course of about one week in the fall of 2017, the sheriff texted and e-mailed the woman at her private e-mail address, saying he had received more letters from “Control Freak,” court records show. She refused to go to the conference, telling Duncan she would take her chances. That’s when Duncan told her he received an eighth letter from “Control Freak,” calling everything off.
The woman reported the ordeal to a supervisor, launching an investigation that the Chisago County attorney referred to officials in Anoka County due to the conflict of interest. Duncan later confessed to being behind the letters, and resigned shortly afterward, according to the complaint.
Earlier this summer, Marshall Tanick, Duncan’s attorney, said he “was undergoing some health-related issues that led him … to retire.” Duncan spent more than 20 years as a Minneapolis police officer, rising to the rank of lieutenant, and returned to his hometown to run for Chisago County sheriff in 2010; he was elected to a four-year term, winning re-election in 2014.
The crime analyst, meanwhile, resigned from her job with the sheriff’s office and has sued Duncan and the county in U.S. District Court, alleging he intended to coerce her into a sexual relationship while she worked for him.
“Elected officials are not above the law and should be held accountable for their abuses of power,” said Leslie Lienemann, an attorney who represents the woman.
Lienemann said Friday that she had not seen the complaint.