SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The embattled Minnehaha County State’s Attorney has announced he is leaving the job.
Aaron McGowan informed the county commission that his last day is Friday.
The story begins with McGowan’s extended leave of absence from the job last summer.
In September, during an exclusive, sit-down interview with KELOLAND News, McGowan claimed he had PTSD from an old knee surgery, as well as from the demands of the job, and was taking care of his issues and even intended to run again.
Then Governor Noem asked the South Dakota Attorney General to investigate McGowan’s absence and she released the report to the public.
The report indicated that McGowan may have abused alcohol and sent inappropriate Snapchat messages to coworkers.
While McGowan was not willing to do an on-camera interview Monday, he did send a statement by email, in which he blames, in part, the Argus Leader newspaper’s reports on his job performance, for his resignation.
When KELOLAND News sat down with Aaron McGowan in September, he addressed the 911 call to his home, he admitted he’d been drinking and said the call was for a well-being check.
Angela Kennecke: Were you ever a danger to yourself?
McGowan: No, absolutely not.
However, the South Dakota Attorney General’s report said McGowan’s family was trying to hold an intervention on July 13 for alcohol, but McGowan refused treatment. The report did confirm that a mental health professional determined after the 911 call that McGowan was “not at risk to his own or others’ safety and the scene was cleared.”
McGowan told KELOLAND News he had sought medical help for his issues and:
“I absolutely intend on running for State’s Attorney again,” McGowan said on September 18.
But Monday in an email to KELOLAND News, McGowan referred to complications after recent knee surgery, saying he had developed a blood clot.
“This condition was likely the result of me returning to work too soon after the initial replacement surgery. In fact, I went to Pierre for a five hour meeting just four days after the knee replacement,” McGowan wrote.
McGowan said he was placed on bed rest and, “Despite everything I’ve been through, the print media has been relentless and continues to harm me and my family.”
McGowan is referring to Argus Leader newspaper reports, including one critical of his job performance that reads, “The last time McGowan took a felony case as a lead attorney was in August 2017.” (Nov. 22, 2019)
McGowan said in his email:
“Contrary to print media reports, I just obtained a life sentence on a child murderer on May 30th of this year.”
KELOLAND News covered the sentencing of Keith Cornett on May 30th, where McGowan told us:
“This was a horrible and heinous crime. The injuries were horrible. I didn’t bring any public exhibits because they were too graphic in nature,” McGowan said in May.
McGowan went on to dispute the papers’ reporting in his email:
“I’ve worked numerous weekends on homicide cases since then. The negative print media has been too much of a distraction for me to continue with my responsibilities as State’s Attorney.”
McGowan went on to say he now intends to focus on his “faith, family, and health needs.”
Below is the Argus Leader’s response to McGowan’s statement to KELOLAND News regarding “print media reports:”
“It’s our duty to hold elected officials to account for their actions, or inactions, because if we don’t do it nobody else will. That includes Aaron McGowan,”Cory Myers, Argus Leader News Director
KELOLAND News checked with members of the Minnehaha County Commission to see if there was any investigation into Aaron McGowan’s conduct by the county. Commissioner Jeff Barth tells KELOLAND News that the county is not currently investigating McGowan or his office.