Appeals Court: No New Trial for Convicted Minneapolis Pedophile

Under Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines offenders are only required to serve two-thirds of their sentence incarcerated and the remainder on supervised release.

Gerald James Risk, Source: MN Dept. of Corrections

WARNING: This report contains links to case details that may be upsetting to some

A Minnesota court of appeals has denied the request for a new trial for a convicted Minneapolis pedophile.

Gerald James Risk was charged in 2016 with sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl. The criminal complaint described a Feb. 2016 incident during which two 12-year-old girls were having a “sleepover” at Risk’s home in northeast Minneapolis. The complaint described graphic sexual conduct with “Victim 1” and “Victim 2,” and also indicated that Risk had engaged in similar activity multiple times previously with Victim 2.

Both girls were described in the complaint as the children of two of Risk’s former girlfriends. Another court document said that Victim 2 was living in the house at that time with Risk and three other adults, which included Risk’s father and Risk’s brother and the brother’s girlfriend. Victim 2’s mother, Risk’s ex-girlfriend, was living at another location with friends, the document said. A search of property records shows that the home where the sexual assault occurred is owned by Risk’s father, Don Risk, a former Minneapolis City Councilman who also served in several capacities with national and state organizations and commissions during his career.

Despite two 12-year-old victims being described in the complaint and the indication that Risk, age 50 at the time, had engaged in inappropriate activity with Victim 2 on multiple occasions prior, Risk was ultimately only charged with one felony count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a child under the age of 13.

Nearly two years later Risk was convicted by a jury following a trial that spanned six days and he was subsequently sentenced in March 2018 to twelve years in prison.

Risk almost immediately filed an appeal seeking a reversal on the verdict and a new trial on the basis of a technicality. On appeal in June 2019, Risk’s attorney presented an oral argument before a three-judge panel contending that the prosecutor had engaged in misconduct by eliciting testimony from witnesses and introducing evidence during closing arguments in the trial on the allegation that Risk had possessed child pornography on his cellphone, evidence which the court had previously ruled inadmissible under State v. Spreigl, which in general disallows evidence of other, unrelated crimes or bad acts to prove character of a person.

The appeals court filed a final ruling on August 26 denying Risk’s appeal for a new trial saying that Risk failed to prove prosecutorial misconduct during questioning of witnesses or during closing arguments. The court said that not all references to prior bad acts constitute Spreigl evidence, and that since child porn had been referenced by Victim 1’s therapist who testified during the trial, it was relevant for the prosecutor to mention it in the closing arguments. The ruling also stated that Risk’s counsel had the obligation to state objection to the child porn allegations at trial when the prosecutor raised the issue, but they didn’t. The court also ruled that Risk was not “prejudiced” by any other potentially inadmissible statement due to the strength of other evidence presented against him in the case.

Risk, 53, is currently incarcerated at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Lino Lakes. Under Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines offenders are only required to serve two-thirds of their sentence incarcerated and the remainder on supervised release. Risk received credit for 138 days already served during the course of the case and is anticipated to be released in Oct. 2025. Risk will be required to register as a predatory offender and will remain under supervision until 2035 following release. 

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