A University of Minnesota law professor engaged in years of protracted legal battles over real estate with the woman he is charged with sexually assaulting and stalking, according to court documents.
Francesco Parisi, 54, of Minneapolis, made his first appearance in Hennepin County District Court Wednesday on charges of first degree criminal sexual conduct and stalking. His bail was set at $350,000.
According to the criminal charges and police records, a 55-year-old woman said she had known Parisi since 2014, when the two had a relationship that lasted several months.
After their split, the victim alleges that Parisi got “crazier and crazier.” She accused Parisi of raping her in January 2015 as she was coming out of a stress-induced seizure. The woman told police that she had three broken teeth and needed to have colon surgery to repair the injuries from the rape.
Parisi’s attorney, Barry Edwards, calls the charges frivolous, and in court Wednesday said the false allegations stem from a pending trial over a property dispute between Parisi and the alleged victim.
The woman declined to comment.
According to interviews and court records, Parisi and the woman agreed after their relationship began to buy a condo in December 2014.
But in January 2015 the relationship soured. By March, Parisi filed a lawsuit to cancel the purchase agreement. She filed an order for protection against him that same day, accusing him of preventing her from leaving his apartment and yelling and screaming at her in January.
Early the next month she counter sued him over the purchase cancellation attempt, but made no mention of the alleged assault. In April 2015, the restraining order was dismissed following a settlement.
She filed two more complaints against him over the property, and for the first time in a January 2016 filing accused him of beating her — but she made no mention of the rape.
In June 2016, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Parisi in the property dispute. Two weeks later, she reported to police that Parisi sexually assaulted her in January 2015, according to records. According to the Hennepin County attorney’s office, that report was never forwarded for potential charges.
In August 2016, she filed for another order for protection against him, saying that Parisi sexually assaulted and stalked her. That order was dismissed in October following another settlement. Court records show the woman had previously filed orders for protection against other people in unrelated cases.
Parisi’s civil attorney, John Braun, said the woman has presented no evidence she was assaulted in her lawsuit regarding the property, adding that she had been living above Parisi since 2015. Her attorney for the property dispute, Wynn Curtiss, could not be reached for contact.
Parisi has taught law at the U and economics at the University of Bologna in Italy since 2006, according to the résumé posted on the law school’s website. He has three law degrees and two economics degrees, it says. His U biography says he has written 10 books and roughly 200 papers in law and economics, and is editor-in-chief of the Review of Law and Economics.
In a statement Tuesday night, the U said, “We take allegations of this nature seriously, and will continue to monitor the legal proceedings. Given the circumstances surrounding the situation, we have not yet had an opportunity to discuss the matter or his status with him, and will have no further updates at this time.”
Brandon Stahl • 612-673-4626