Updated: 11/06/2012 7:45 AM KSTP.com By: Leslie Dyste
Hours after jury selection was to have begun in the criminal sexual conduct case against him, businessman William Wanner sat next to his attorneys in an office across from the downtown Minneapolis courthouse overcome by relief and disbelief.
"It's been such a terrible ordeal that I faced and what I keep thinking: 'OK, my life's really been ruined.' How do I ever get my reputation back? And I don't know how to do that," Wanner told reporters Monday afternoon.
Wanner, 69, owner of Wanner Engineering, had been accused of inappropriately touching a then-10 year-old girl at the Minneapolis Club swimming pool and hot tub on two dates in December 2009.
Prosecutors dismissed the case Monday morning after a series of losses in court significantly reduced the amount of evidence that could be admitted at trial.
An appeals court dismissed testimony from the victim during which she said Wanner had touched her "private parts," ruling the girl was badgered during a police interview.
A separate ruling by a different judge restricted the use of surveillance video that prosecutors claimed "corroborates" the abuse.
According to an unusual filing Monday dismissing the case, the victim was prepared to testify that no abuse occurred.
Combined with the other evidentiary rulings, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Darren Borg wrote, "there is presently insufficient admissible evidence to have a reasonable probability of obtaining a conviction."
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman declined to comment but his spokesman, Chuck Laszewski, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, "Justice required us to dismiss the case, and we did."
One of Wanner's attorneys, Joe Friedberg, blasted Freeman for waiting two and a half years to dismiss the case.
"It shows a county attorney who is pathologically unable to admit that he has made a mistake. And to use his office to abuse Bill Wanner, a man completely innocent of all of these charges, is the most outrageous thing I've ever seen in the practice of law," Friedberg told reporters.