Jim Knoblach, the eight-term Republican state representative from Minnesota, ended his re-election campaign on Friday after his adult daughter alleged he had inappropriately touched her over the course of 12 years, dating back to the time she was a child.
In a statement on Facebook, Knoblach, 60, denied the allegations, calling them “extremely hurtful and untrue.”
“I love my children more than anything, and would never do anything to hurt them,” Knoblach wrote. “Her allegations are false.”
“I could fight on for another six weeks to defend my reputation while running for re-election. But this would entail subjecting my wife, son, and elderly parents, as well as my daughter, to six weeks of extreme stress and scrutiny. I’m also not willing to spend six weeks fighting with my daughter in the media,” he continued. “As a result, I feel I have no choice but to effectively end my campaign today so that I can work towards healing my family.”
Representatives for Knoblach did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Knoblach’s daughter Laura, 23, first made accusations against her father in late 2016, writing in a since-deleted Facebook post that he “molested” her and that “my family threatened and coerced me into silence about it for almost 15 years,” Minnesota Public Radio reported.
Her accusations were investigated by the St. Cloud Police Department and Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office, though the case was dismissed and closed in April 2017 with no charges filed, MPR reported.
In the wake of that decision, court documents from which MPR published, Laura took her claims to the outlet. MPR has been preparing a story on her allegations over the past seven months, though Knoblach resigned before the piece was published.
Laura claims that her father’s inappropriate touching included kissing, licking, and biting her ears — all while allegedly pinning her down and using his strength to keep her from escaping. She recalled over 30 instances of the alleged abuse, the first being when she was 9 years old and the last being when she was 21.
In Knoblach’s Facebook statement, he said that his daughter has been estranged from his family “for some time.”
Even in the wake of her allegations, Knoblach said he and his family would welcome Laura back with open arms.
“I and other family members have made repeated attempts to reconcile with her in recent years, but she has refused,” the politician wrote. “As indescribably hurtful as these circumstances are, my wife and I love our daughter, and we look forward to the day when we can somehow again be a happy family.”
Knoblach is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, a group that oversees budgets. He was going up against Democratic candidate Dan Wolgamott in the election.
“It has been the greatest honor of my life to represent my hometown in the Legislature. I want to thank my many supporters for their years of support. I have done the best I can to represent my district in Saint Paul, and will continue to contribute in other ways,” Knoblach wrote on Facebook, adding that he will remain in office until his term is up. “I will now complete the term voters elected me to serve and help constituents who contact me every day.”