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South Dakota Governor Says Son Acquitted in Mansion Case

April 13, 1990 GMT

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) _ Gov. George Mickelson said today his son was acquitted of sexual offense charges stemming from an alleged rape at a drinking party at the governor’s mansion.

It was the first time that Mickelson acknowledged that his son David was even present during the Nov. 28 party. His son, who was 17 at the time, was sentenced in circuit court today for underage drinking, Mickelson said.

Speaking to reporters outside the mansion, Mickelson said he regretted not clarifying a statement issued in December when reports of an alleged rape at a party at the mansion surfaced. The statement had said that his son’s whereabouts the night of Nov. 28 were not relevant.

″Obviously, David’s whereabouts were relevant,″ the governor said. Mickelson and his wife had been out of town the night of the party.

Lawyers and court documents have referred to a 16-year-old girl as the alleged victim in the case.

Mickelson acknowledged that his son was one of wo boys who stood trial last month on charges of sex offenses arising from the incident. After a two-day trial, one boy was acquitted of non-forcible rape and the other acquitted of aiding and abetting rape.

The governor and his wife, Linda, made the statement to reporters shortly after three juvenile boys were given probation and ordered to perform community service for underage drinking.

″In case anybody believes differently, we absolutely do not approve of the party that was held at our house on Nov. 28. It was without our permission. It was without our knowledge. Nor do we as parents approve of our son’s actions, and I can assure you he is keenly aware of our feelings,″ the governor said.

″Even though Judge (Marshall) Young’s decision meant that our son was not guilty, it does not lift entirely the pain that this incident has caused,″ the governor said.

Mickelson said he and his wife sat through the juvenile court trial last month with the parents of the girl involved and with other parents and their children.

″This has been an agonizing experience for all of us,″ he said.

The governor said he has not spoken about the case until now because he believed it should be handled with the same privacy given other juvenile cases.

″In South Dakota, we have had for 100 years laws that provide that juveniles can make mistakes and still not lose their hope for a meaningful future,″ he said.