By Matthew Stolle
A Wabasha man running for the state Senate seat held by DFL Sen. Steve Murphy has been charged with physically assaulting his 14-year-old daughter.
Charges of fifth-degree domestic assault were filed after Steve Drazkowski, 41, allegedly grabbed his daughter by the shirt below her neck and lifted her heels off the ground while yelling in her face, court records say.
Documents say a Wabasha police officer arrived at Wabasha/Kellogg High School on Oct. 13 to find an emotionally distraught girl with two red marks on her upper chest. She complained that she was afraid of her father and didn't want to return to her home.
The girl told authorities that the assault was not an isolated incident and that verbal fights occur on a daily basis. She said Drazkowski had slapped her one time in December 2004 when "she could not hold a cold dog dish while he filled it."
Drazkowski was arrested at his home and jailed overnight before being released without bail.
Contacted by phone, Drazkowski said he would not talk about the alleged assault, but said the incident would not affect his decision to run for the state Senate.
"We continue on course, full speed ahead. Staying on course is our political plan," said Drazkowski, a Republican.
Drazkowski followed up this morning with an e-mail saying the events in his life have left him to do "much soul searching about what is important in life."
"There is nothing in the world more precious to me than my family," he writes. "The charges being reported are not true. I in no way assaulted my daughter. The accusations are the result of an incident where school officials and law enforcement acted as the law dictates.
"Unfortunately, the law leaves absolutely no room for these officials to exercise their own judgment, but rather directs them to act in the way they did, in every allegation that they hear," he writes.
Drazkowski also said that there was a "huge need for improvement" to Minnesota law "regarding the ability of parents to parent."
Drazkowski is making a run for the seat held by Murphy, a 13-year senator who is chairman of the Senate Transportation committee.
The complaint states the incident took place before school with Drazkowski yelling at her about housework. At one point, the girl muttered under her breath for him to shut up and that Drazkowski heard her.
The girl went into the bathroom to brush her teeth. When Drazkowski started to yell at her again, the girl tried to shut the door, but Drazkowski forced it open.
Drazkowski walked toward her as the girl backed away and grabbed her shirt with both hands, causing her heels to be lifted off the ground. He grabbed her two more times, but did not strike or hit her at any time, the documents say.
Drazkowski is under a temporary restraining order not to have contact with his daughter. A hearing has been held to determine whether the order should be made permanent, but no decision was made by Judge Terrence Walters, documents say.
A pretrial hearing for the fifth-degree assault charge is scheduled for Nov. 23.