Mary Stauffer sat in the back row of an Anoka County courtroom, scribbling notes that she quietly shared with her daughter, Beth. They listened intently as the man on the stand, Ming Sen Shiue, proclaimed that 30 years in prison have made him a changed person. He begged for Mary Stauffer's forgiveness, saying she had every reason to despise him for kidnapping and repeatedly raping her while Beth, then 8 years old, was kept in a closet.
The young girl, he said, wasn't part of his longtime fantasy to abduct his former ninth-grade algebra teacher. He let out a small sob when he also apologized for killing a 6-year-old witness; the boy's uncle and cousin sat across the aisle from the Stauffers.
Mary Stauffer's last contact with Shiue was at his 1981 trial for the boy's killing. Shiue attacked her on the witness stand, badly cutting her face and neck. Yet on Monday, she didn't have a deep emotional response when he entered the courtroom with the help of a walker, feet in shackles. Instead, she felt a sense of sadness for the great negative impact his crimes had on all the families, she said.
"We have had a wonderful life for the last 30 years," Stauffer said. "God has been so good to us and healed us. God has given us a normal life."
Shiue, 59, has the possibility of being released from prison on parole in July. That prompted the Anoka County attorney's office to file a petition to have him committed to a secured sex offender treatment center in Moose Lake, Minn.
During Monday's commitment trial, Beth Stauffer said commitment is the only way she believes her three children will be safe because Shiue had threatened at the time of the crime to find and kill the people who put him in prison.
"The threat is real," she said. "He killed a 6-year-old. If he's determined to inflict pain, he can."
In her short opening statement, Assistant County Attorney Janice Allen questioned whether Shiue, who she said never sought sex offender treatment in federal prison, had truly been rehabilitated. Shiue claimed that he wanted treatment but that none of the facilities offered a program for his specific disorders.
Shiue spent three hours on the stand, ticking off a number of times he said he asked for treatment that were not included in his prison record. He couldn't be transferred to another prison where treatment was available because he had a high-security custody level, he said.
Mary Stauffer, who sat with her husband and several other relatives, admitted that hearing some of Shiue's testimony was painful. He spoke softly when he was asked by Allen to explain what may have influenced the hundreds of pages of sexual fantasy stories he started writing about Stauffer, a teacher he had an "extreme schoolboy crush" on. Some stories were based on pornographic movies involving teachers being raped, he said.
A tenseness filled the courtroom when Allen had Shiue read several graphic portions of the stories out loud because she said they paralleled his enjoyment in causing pain and humiliation to Stauffer.
Shiue was convicted of kidnapping the Stauffers and holding them in his Roseville home for seven weeks.
In the course of the abduction, he killed 6-year-old Jason Wilkman, who was playing in a Ramsey County park when he saw the Stauffers in the trunk of their car.
"Beth never knew I had been assaulted because she was in a separate area," Stauffer said. "But when we were put back together in the closet, she could see in my eyes something was wrong. Then I would tell her we should pray."
When Allen asked what acts by Shiue caused emotional harm, Beth Stauffer said that he would threaten to kill her mother if she didn't comply with his sexual wishes. Beth Stauffer said several times that Shiue kept her in a cardboard box in his van at work for hours at a time.
On the stand, Shiue meticulously recited information about his prison stay, and said he had thought about his victims every day for at least the past 10 years. He read an apology, saying long-held feelings of remorse weigh heavily on him.
"Mrs. Stauffer had the misfortune to be my teacher," he said. "I give my solemn pledge I will not hurt them or anybody else again. My only goal is to give her peace of mind and closure."
The past few years, Shiue said, he has become very serious about receiving sex offender treatment. He knows what triggered his bad behavior in the past, he said. If released after a parole board review, Shiue would be on parole for the rest of his life, which would involve GPS monitoring and intensive supervision, he said.
If Judge Jenny Walker Jasper decides Shiue has a mental disorder and poses a future danger, she could commit him for an evaluation period at Moose Lake. Shiue would then come back to her for another hearing to determine if he should remain committed. The trial, which is expected to end Wednesday, will focus on testimony from psychologists who evaluated Shiue's mental health.
Mary and Beth Stauffer plan to attend the entire trial. Beth Stauffer said she wants to believe Shiue's apology is sincere, but her mother said "time will tell if he's changed."
Mary Stauffer said she was glad her daughter was hearing Shiue's testimony, because "we both are as good as judges can be to see if he was telling the truth."
"Her life isn't defined by what happened," Beth Stauffer said. "Neither is mine."
David Chanen • 612-673-4465