Victim objects as former Ramsey County public defender avoids prison on sexual misconduct charges

A former Ramsey County public defender convicted of criminal sexual misconduct charges avoided prison time Monday in a sentence that his victim called “extremely lenient.”

Adam Kujawa, 38, was sentenced in Washington County District Court to four years of probation and 90 days in jail, which can be served on electronic home monitoring, after he struck a plea deal and admitted to amended charges stemming from sexual misconduct on his boat on Forest Lake in May 2021.

Kujawa had worked as a Ramsey County public defender for many years, but resigned Feb. 28, a day after pleading guilty to felony criminal sexual predatory conduct and to gross misdemeanor fifth-degree nonconsensual sexual conduct. He had entered an Alford plea, meaning he maintains innocence while acknowledging the state likely has enough evidence to convict him.

Judge Siv Mjanger followed the terms of Kujawa’s plea deal and stayed nearly four years of prison time for four years. He must register as a predatory offender for 10 years and undergo a psychosexual evaluation and follow the recommendations.

The woman, now 38, said in court in a prepared statement read by a victim advocate that she was the victim of Kujawa’s “psychological, physical and sexual abuse” for more than three years, “something that words cannot ever capture.”

“He has taken so many things that I love, and he has taken my time, my safety, my freedom and me away from me and those who love me,” she said. “I am a completely different person as a result of his abuse.”

Prosecutors have previously called the plea deal a “global resolution” because it settled criminal cases in three other Minnesota counties alleging similar conduct by Kujawa involving the woman.

Following Kujawa’s sentencing, Washington County Attorney Kevin Magnuson said in a written statement that sexual conduct cases are among the “most important and most difficult cases” his office prosecutes.

“Sexual assaults take an enormous and terrible toll on victims,” he continued. “I hope the resolution of this case will provide some measure of closure to the victim. I am pleased that Kujawa has been held accountable for his crime through two criminal convictions, incarceration and registration as a predatory offender.”

Other charges dismissed

Washington County prosecutors filed two felony cases against Kujawa in December 2021 — one alleging the Forest Lake incident, the other for alleged sexual assaults at his St. Paul apartment in September of that year.

Washington County handled the second case for the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office due to perceived conflicts of interest. Mjanger dismissed the case last year, citing insufficient evidence to support the charge of third-degree criminal sexual conduct by means of force or coercion.

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The original felony charge in the Washington County criminal complaint also alleged third-degree criminal sexual conduct by means of force or coercion. According to the complaint, a witness reported to police in November 2021 that around May 15, while on the boat, Kujawa grabbed the victim by the hips and waist and pulled her toward himself. The witness said the victim told him “no” and to stop what he was doing. Kujawa placed his hands up the victim’s dress at least five times, the witness said. The victim told police that she would try to get away, but he would pull her back.

In the Ramsey County case, the woman alleged that on Sept. 29, 2021, she had been raped by Kujawa twice at his Grand Avenue apartment over the prior two days. She told police that she was in a romantic relationship with him for four years, the complaint said.

Under the February plea deal, the Cook County Attorney’s Office dismissed its case that charged Kujawa with four counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct by means of force or coercion. The charges were filed last September after the woman alleged that Kujawa forced her to have sex on four occasions over three days at a Lutsen ski resort in February 2020.

Also, the Aitkin County Attorney’s Office agreed not to file a criminal complaint it had drafted charging Kujawa with first-degree criminal sexual conduct and “lesser offenses” related to an alleged incident on Feb. 29, 2020, according to the plea petition.

Meanwhile, the Crow Wing County Attorney’s Office considered filing a case against Kujawa but declined charges, according to prosecutors.

Special treatment?

At Monday’s hearing, the woman said Kujawa “has stolen my self-worth. Seven years of my life. My safety, privacy, intimacy, self-confidence, belief in the justice system, and my own voice in this world.”

As she did after the plea deal, she maintained that Kujawa was given special treatment because of his past jobs, which included a stint as an assistant attorney general, and that she “was never consulted, never given a chance to react or provide my input.”

“Once again my voice was squashed, just as Adam said it would be,” she said.

Assistant Washington County Attorney Wade Kish addressed her claim, saying: “As I’ve stated previously in court, there were many different opportunities in meetings in which this negotiation was presented to (the victim), who had a chance to react and respond. I should also advise the court, as you are well aware, that no less than four counties have signed off on this plea negotiation.”

The victim’s assertions of preferential treatment “are just simply inaccurate,” said Kujawa’s attorney, David Lundgren, adding his client is a “good man” and that he had many supporters in court with him.

Afterward, a teary-eyed Kujawa was surrounded outside the courtroom by his parents and several of his former colleagues from the Second Judicial District Public Defender’s Office. They declined to comment, as did Kujawa.

Meanwhile, Kujawa’s future as an attorney is unknown.

Susan Humiston, director of the state’s Office Of Lawyers Responsibility, the governing body for attorneys, said Monday they have an open investigation into Kujawa’s criminal conduct. Humiston said she cannot speak of Kujawa’s open case, adding that, in general terms, conduct by attorneys and the potential punishment, which can include disbarment, is imposed by the state Supreme Court.

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