Accuser of 1990 gubernatorial candidate dies

Elizabeth Mulay
When she was only 22, Elizabeth Mulay changed Minnesota history. It was 1990, three weeks before election day, when she made allegations of sexual impropriety against Republican candidate Jon Grunseth. Grunseth denied he'd tried to fondle Mulay when she was a teenager, but he was eventually forced from the race. Mulay, 42 at the time of this photo taken in 2010, stood by her story.
MPR Photo/Curtis Gilbert

Elizabeth Mulay, the woman who was thrust into the public spotlight 21 years ago when she accused a Minnesota gubernatorial candidate of molestation, has died.

Family members tell Minnesota Public Radio News Elizabeth Mulay died Friday August 5, 2011, after suffering severe burns last month in a Minneapolis house fire, started by a suspected gas explosion. She was 43.

Twenty years ago, Mulay changed the course of Minnesota political history.

On October 15th, 1990, just three weeks before election day, Mulay accused Republican gubernatorial candidate Jon Grunseth of trying to molest her when she was only 13. The alleged incident took place nine years earlier at a 4th of July pool party. Speaking with Minnesota Public Radio News at that time, Mulay said there were three other young girls in the pool with her and Grunseth.

"Jon Grunseth and a couple of his friends came out and tried to coax us into taking off our suits and all go skinny dipping. When I went up, somebody commented that I still had my suit on, and I still refused to take it off," Mulay said. "Jon Grunseth started chasing me and blocked me in the edge of the pool, and went to pull down my strap with one hand and the other to grab my breast."

Grunseth denied the allegations, but he eventually dropped out of the race. Arne Carlson took his place on the ballot and won

Last year, as part of a documentary on the 1990 campaign, Mulay spoke with MPR reporter Curtis Gilbert. Mulay said she was proud of the role she played in state history, but she also felt bad for Grunseth.

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