Sex abuse charges against a Coeur d’Alene man have been dismissed in Missouri because of a technicality.
Randall L. Tetzner, 50, left the Adair County Detention Center on Monday after a judge dropped two counts of sodomy and two counts of rape for alleged incidents in 1986 and 1987, said Adair County Prosecutor Mark Williams.
The dismissal hinged on a change in the Missouri statute of limitations for sex crimes.
Previous law didn’t allow charges more than 10 years after an alleged crime. That changed in June 1997 to 10 years after a victim’s 18th birthday, Williams said, and prosecutors thought Tetzner’s case qualified because the alleged victim is 27.
But the statute of limitations for filing against Tetzner had already expired by the time the law changed – in February 1997.
That four-month gap led to Tetzner’s charges being dropped this week, Williams said.
The prosecutor called the dismissal “extremely frustrating.”
“Our objective was to put him in prison for a long time,” Williams said.
Tetzner said in a phone interview Tuesday that the allegations were false and that he’s relieved to be reunited with his family.
“It’s made me appreciate liberty,” Tetzner said. “It’s made me appreciate my family more than anyone can possibly imagine.”
His wife, Diane Tetzner, said the allegations stemmed from an ongoing family feud. Meanwhile, she said, her family has been through “hell.”
“It was the worst thing we’ve ever been through in our lives,” Tetzner said. Randall Tetzner had been in Missouri since December after fighting extradition from Kootenai County, where he’d been in jail since Sept. 18.
His arrest came after a woman told detectives she’d been abused by Tetzner when she was 3 and 4 years old in Kirksville, Mo.
Tetzner was arrested on the accusations in 1987, but the case was dismissed after a judge found no probable cause. Prosecutors filed charges last year after the alleged victim told detectives in July that she remembered more about the incidents, according to court documents.
Diane Tetzner said the case never would have survived a trial, but she worries about her family’s reputation.
“Some people are going to believe what they want to believe regardless,” she said. “From now on in some people’s minds, he’s going to be guilty no matter what.”
Tetzner is well-known in Kootenai County, particularly the Coeur d’Alene School District, where he advocates for children with disabilities and helped start an “autism essay contest.”
In 2005, the Coeur d’Alene School Board settled a federal lawsuit filed by him two years after he was locked out of their meeting.
The school board agreed to apologize to Tetzner and changed meeting minutes to acknowledge the meeting had been “inadvertently locked.”