Skip to main content

La Crescent man wrongly imprisoned for 2 years stands to get nearly $500K

  • Author:
  • Updated:

A southeastern Minnesota man who served more than two years in prison before he was found to be innocent will be compensated $475,000 if a panel's recommendation is approved by the Legislature.

His lawyer tells the Star Tribune 50 year old Roger Olsen suffers from post-traumatic stress since serving time in Stillwater Correctional Facility for sexually assaulting a child. Olsen was released in 2008, the newspaper says, after investigators discovered evidence that his accuser had lied.

Attorney Steve Meshbesher tells FOX 9 Olsen was subjected to assaults and abuse from Stillwater inmates who targeted him because he'd been labeled a child rapist.

Olsen tells the station: "I tried to fight my way out of it by writing all kinds of letters, got all kinds of denials. At one point, I tried to take my life in there."

This embed is invalid

WCCO reports Olsen's accuser in 2006 was his stepdaughter, who was in fourth grade at the time.

Olsen tells the station that since his release he's been depressed, unable to find work, and is scared to be alone with women or children for fear of being falsely accused.

New state law allows compensation

Under a Minnesota law that took effect just last year, people who are exonerated after serving prison time qualify for money from the state. Advocates for the law – including the Minnesota Innocence Project – say the payments compensate those wrongly imprisoned for lost earnings, emotional stress, and the physical toll.

Under the law, the state Supreme Court appoints a panel of judges and lawyers to study a case and agree on a compensation amount. The Legislature then must approve the payment.

The first Minnesotan to be approved for compensation was Koua Fong Lee of St. Paul, who was convicted of criminal vehicular homicide in 2006. He served nearly three years in prison before it was determined that Lee was not at fault in the fatal accident.

The Minnesota Innocence Project says 30 states have laws allowing compensation for those wrongly imprisoned.

Wisconsin currently limits that compensation to $5,000 for each year behind bars and total payouts are capped at $25,000.

The Associated Press reports that on Wednesday Wisconsin's Assembly voted 98-0 to approve a bill raising those limits to $50,000 a year and $1 million total. That bill now moves to the state Senate.

Next Up

Marcus Foligno

Foligno's OT winner gives Wild fans a happy Hockey Day

A slow start gave way to the Wild's fifth win in the past six games.


Winter weather advisory issued as Saturday snow arrives

Not huge totals expected, but any snow will likely impact travel.


Report: Ryan Poles is Vikings' 'top choice' for general manager

Poles was one of two finalists revealed on Friday.

Payton Willis

Willis carries shorthanded Gophers to beat Rutgers

The senior scored a career-high 32 points to end a four-game losing streak.


Charges: St. Paul man had sexual contact 'multiple times' with 12-year-old girl

Marcus Steichen, 21, is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

Charges: Mom killed infant son just weeks after getting him back from foster care

The 10-month-old died in her care in Brooklyn Park last April.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Arrests made following fentanyl bust in St. Cloud

Authorities searched two St. Cloud apartments Friday morning.

potatoes 2

Minnesota's 'frozen potato freeway' closure attracts plenty of comment

It was, let's face it, a very Minnesotan reason for a freeway closure.

Screen Shot 2022-01-21 at 9.07.54 AM

U of M fraternity raises money for chef's knee surgery

The GoFundMe has raised around $1,700 of its $5,000 goal.

unsplash restaurant cashier register COVID face mask - crop

7 restaurant, bar groups sue Minneapolis over dining vaccine mandate

"Minneapolis bars and restaurants are being used as pawns..." the lawsuit said.

Screen Shot 2022-01-22 at 7.47.53 AM

Woman fatally shot in St. Paul's North End neighborhood

It's the fourth homicide so far this year in St. Paul.


Wild flip the script, dominate Blackhawks

Ryan Hartman scored twice to earn the first game of a back-to-back.