Wrongly convicted, Roger Olsen gets $475,000 for 2 years in Minnesota prison
STILLWATER, Minn. (KMSP) - After wrongfully being convicted of criminal sexual conduct involving a minor and spending two years in a Stillwater prison, Roger Olsen, 50, will be compensated $475,000 by the state, his attorney said Tuesday.
While in prison, Olsen was "subjected to assaults and abuse by inmates who targeted him not only because of his quiet and peaceful demeanor, but because he had been falsely labeled as a child rapist," his attorney Steve Meshbesher said.
Olsen said getting compensated for being locked up from 2006 to 2008 does not right a wrong, or change the damage that's been done. He said in the years since he got out, people still treat him differently, and he's had a hard time moving past what happened in prison.
"I didn't expect to live in there. Everybody gets beat, raped, all kinds of stuff in there," Olsen said.
Olsen, of La Crescent, was released from prison in 2008 when investigators found evidence that the accuser fabricated the story. In 2007, the alleged victim, his former step-daughter, accused her mother's new boyfriend of identical sexual abuse and it raised red flags.
"As the county attorney's office that originally prosecuted Mr. Olsen has acknowledged, evidence came to light after Mr. Olsen's conviction that affirmatively proves he is an innocent man," Meshbesher said.
Olsen said the two years he spent locked up in Stillwater changed him permanently as he desperately tried to keep convincing people he was innocent.
"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," he said.
In the years since, Olsen said he's still depressed and still struggles to find work -- "I went to five different states with the papers and all my expunge papers. I just can't get certain people to believe it."
The Minnesota Office of Management and Budget will be paying Olsen for the injuries and damages he sustained during the false imprisonment. The settlement will be presented to the legislature this session for final approval; Meshbesher said they're confident it will be approved without delay.
"This settlement vindicates Mr. Olsen as an innocent man, and while it cannot give him back the time he lost, or undo the suffering he endured, it represents the beginning of a new chapter in Mr. Olsen's life," Meshbesher said.
But Olsen said he's changed forever, "I just ain't the same person I used to be."