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No charges for Duluth lawmaker in rest stop incident

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — State Rep. Kerry Gauthier won't be charged in an incident involving a 17-year-old boy at a freeway rest stop in Duluth last month, the Duluth News Tribune reported Thursday.

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The newspaper said the St. Louis County Attorney's office decided not to pursue charges in the July 22 incident at the Thompson Hill rest stop. The paper obtained police records showing that the Duluth police and the State Patrol investigated Gauthier for allegedly having oral sex with the boy after putting an ad on Craigslist. Gauthier was interviewed by police July 31.

The first-term Democratic lawmaker from Duluth did not immediately respond to an email message from The Associated Press. His home voicemail was full.

Republican Party Chairman Pat Shortridge criticized Gauthier for missing a Capitol hearing on flood relief for his district Thursday, saying Gauthier's absence "raises serious doubts about his ability to continue holding public office."

Democratic House Minority Leader Paul Thissen said in a statement that Gauthier was hospitalized for "an unknown health issue."

"I have not spoken with Rep. Gauthier. I expect he will further address the events of last month once he is fully recovered," Thissen said.

Gauthier's troubles in a reliably Democratic district could make it harder for Democrats as they try to regain control of the House. They are scraping for every seat they can get.

Gauthier was elected in 2010 with 73 percent of the vote. Republican Travis Silvers is challenging him this year, vowing in a campaign video to make "God, family, marriage" a priority.

If Gauthier were to end his re-election campaign, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party might have to rely on a write-in effort to keep the seat in Democratic hands.

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Information from: Duluth News Tribune, http://www.duluthsuperior.com

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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