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Helget v. Meier

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

October 15, 2013

Deanna Jo Helget, petitioner, Respondent,
v.
Dustin Meier, Appellant.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Brown County District Court File No. 08-CV-12-1133.

Peter J. Hemberger, Gislason & Hunter LLP, New Ulm, Minnesota (for respondent).

Ryan B. Magnus, Jennifer Thon, Jones and Magnus, Mankato, Minnesota (for appellant).

Considered and decided by Hooten, Presiding Judge; Johnson, Chief Judge; and Halbrooks, Judge.

HALBROOKS, Judge.

On appeal from the district court's harassment-restraining order (HRO), appellant argues that the HRO should be reversed because (1) the evidence does not prove repeated incidents of intrusive conduct; (2) the evidence does not prove that his intrusive conduct had a substantial and adverse effect on respondent; and (3) the district court was required, but failed, to find that there was an immediate and present danger of harassment. Because it was within the district court's discretion to issue the HRO, we affirm.

FACTS

In 2012, respondent Deanna Jo Helget and appellant Dustin Meier were enrolled at South Central College in North Mankato where they both participated in the college's student senate. Helget was elected to the student senate in the fall of 2011, and Meier was elected to the senate in the spring of 2012. Through their participation in the student senate, Helget and Meier became friends.

In April 2012, several members of the student senate, including Helget and Meier, attended a weekend conference at a resort near Brainerd. While Helget initially decided not to attend, she changed her mind when other friends encouraged her to go. When Meier learned of Helget's decision to attend, he stated, "You'll go for them, but you won't go for me." This comment made Helget uncomfortable.

Upon arriving at the conference, Helget connected with an old male friend. This "instantly" upset Meier. Meier subsequently began sending text messages to Helget, inquiring about her whereabouts, and asked Helget's friends about Helget's activities at the conference. The first evening of the conference, Meier approached Helget and inquired about the possibility of the two dating. Helget stated that she was not interested. Later that evening, Helget received "lots of text messages" from Meier asking, "[W]here are you, what are you doing?"

Helget's friend sent a text message to Meier from Helget's phone suggesting that he leave Helget alone. At this point, "[Meier] was mad and getting angrier" and sent a series of threatening and angry text messages to Helget. Helget responded to Meier: "[Y]ou're scaring me, leave me alone." Meier also left a voice message on Helget's phone that evening stating, "I have the experience, I will end you. If you swing at me, it will be the last thing that you do." Meier continued to send unwanted text messages to Helget throughout the weekend. In several of those messages, Meier demanded to know with whom she had spent the night.

The following week, Helget talked to Meier in an attempt to "bury the hatchet" and move on from the incidents at the conference. In that conversation, Meier asked Helget to delete the messages he had sent. Helget deleted the text messages, but did not delete Meier's voice messages. Helget's phone retained copies of the deleted text messages.

That summer, Helget was withdrawn and depressed. When she returned to campus in September, Helget was anxious and fearful of Meier. She avoided Meier "at all ...


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