An organization promoted by Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris has come under fire for helping post bail for an alleged child rapist and other violent offenders.
The Minnesota Freedom Fund was founded in 2016 “to pay criminal bail and immigration bonds for those who cannot afford to” as part of an effort to “end discriminatory, intimidating, and oppressive money bail.” In the four days following the death of George Floyd, when riots and protests began to engulf the city of Minneapolis, the Minnesota Freedom Fund raised $20 million to bail out jailed protesters.
On June 1, one week after Floyd’s death, Harris, who had yet to be selected as the Democrats’ 2020 vice presidential nominee, took to Twitter to urge followers to “chip in now to the @MNFreedomFund to help post bail for those protesting on the ground in Minnesota.” However, as the Minnesota Freedom Fund admitted two weeks ago, only $210,000 of the $3,475,000 in bail money it has paid since “the uprising” has gone to “protest-related bails.”
A Daily Caller News Foundation report, published Wednesday, shed some light on where some of the rest of the money has gone. Based on a court document obtained by the DCNF, the Minnesota Freedom Fund played a role in securing Timothy Wayne Columbus’ release from jail. Columbus faces up to 30 years behind bars for criminal sexual conduct by engaging in “sexual penetration with victim, a person under the age of thirteen years.”
According to the document, Columbus’ victim, who was 8 years old at the time of the incident, said that he “laid her on her couch and held her down as he unbuckled his pants and then pulled down her pants.” The girl claimed that he “put his thing inside me.”
Columbus is not the only person charged with a serious criminal offense who successfully secured bail from the Minnesota Freedom Fund. A court document shows that Richard Raynell Kelley, charged with first degree assault and violating an order for protection, requested that any refunded bail money be returned to the MFF.
Kelley allegedly hit, beat, punched, and tied up his elderly mother after entering her home in violation of the order for protection she had against him. A week after his release, which was secured in part by the MFF, Kelley was found to have violated his bail terms by disobeying electronic court monitoring rules.
Another violent offender that the MRFF provided bail for, Lionel Timms, assaulted a man less than two weeks after his release, according to Alpha News. The attack left Timms’ victim with a traumatic brain injury. Timms had previously been in jail after assaulting a man on public transit, leaving him with a fractured nose.
Greg Lerwin, the interim director of the Minnesota Freedom Fund, did not deny that he was bailing violent offenders out of jail. “I often don’t even look at a charge when I bail someone out,” he told Fox 9, Minneapolis’ Fox affiliate.
A Fox 9 report, published in August, revealed that MFF paid $100,000 bail for Darnika Floyd, who was charged with second degree murder after stabbing her friend to death. MFF also posted bail on behalf of Jaleel Stallings, who shot at members of a SWAT team during the riots that broke out following George Floyd’s death, and Christopher Boswell, a twice convicted rapist who faces kidnapping, assault, and sexual assault charges.
As of Friday, the fundraising page Harris linked to in her tweet promoting MFF was still accepting donations.