Superior man accused of kidnapping girlfriend from Duluth bar, raping her

The victim reportedly described numerous assaults committed by Dakota Thorstenson over the course of a year.

A courtroom gavel

DULUTH — A Superior man who was arrested last year for allegedly kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman is now charged with the same crimes against a second victim.

Dakota Daniel Thorstenson, 28, was arraigned Monday in State District Court in Duluth on allegations that he abducted his then-girlfriend from a downtown bar, drove her to her West Duluth home and tackled her when she tried to escape. Thorstenson, according to court documents, then took the woman to his Superior residence, where he bound her with rope and duct tape as he beat and raped her.

Dakota Daniel Thorstenson.jpg
Dakota Daniel Thorstenson

Douglas County prosecutors have also charged Thorstenson with a number of crimes related to that incident and other allegations of abuse, and St. Louis County authorities filed an additional criminal complaint charging him with another rape of the same victim on another date.

Thorstenson was already in the St. Louis County Jail facing multiple charges related to the alleged physical and sexual assault of another woman following a bowling date last August. The new charges relate to a yearlong series of actions, some of which occurred just weeks prior to that incident.

The charges stem from an incident that allegedly began in Hermantown and ended in Superior.

According to the newly filed complaints in both states:


The victim met with a Superior police detective in December to describe how Thorstenson "abused her mentally, physically and sexually" while they dated.

The victim said the kidnapping occurred while she was out drinking with her sister on the night of July 22 at two bars, Aces and The Flame, near First Street and First Avenue East in downtown Duluth. She reported that Thorstenson had "cheated on her like six times in a week and he knew she was mad at him."

He showed up at the bars and was upset that she was dancing with another man. At closing time, he was waiting outside and ended up punching the other man in the face, dropping him to the ground, the victim reported. He then "kind of swooped me up," she reported, and drove toward her house in West Duluth.

They were arguing and he ended up driving past her residence to a dead end, telling her not to get out. She ignored his order and attempted to run toward some houses, but Thorstenson tackled her, possibly hitting her head on the concrete curb and causing her to black out. She did recall that he dragged her back to the car and "stuffed" her inside.

They arrived at the Faxon Street address and Thorstenson pushed her to the ground, wrapping his arms around her neck and strangling the victim as she tried to crawl away. The woman recalled losing consciousness for a period and fearing for her life once she came to. She said he ripped off her clothes and "proceeded to beat the f- - - out of me."

He then tied the woman's legs together with rope and wrapped duct tape around her hands, ignoring her pleas to stop. She said he then threw her on the bed and raped her before beating her again, causing her to go in and out of consciousness and lose feeling in the lower half of her body.

He then took her to the bathtub and gave her a cold shower to "shock her body back awake," also cutting off the rope and tape. She eventually convinced Thorstenson to take her to a hospital, where they used an excuse about her being "jumped" after leaving the bar.

The victim also described a number of other incidents over the course of their relationship.


On Christmas Eve 2021, she said, an argument at Builder's Saloon, 619 Tower Ave., Superior, led to Thorstenson shoving her against a wall and hitting her. It continued as they drove to the defendant's home on the 1200 block of Faxon Street, with Thorstenson stopping and trying to drag her out of the car at one point as he punched and kicked her. She said she would often cover up bruises with makeup to hide the abuse from others.

The other charged rape allegedly occurred at some point in fall 2021 at her home. He forced himself on the victim and began raping and strangling her, continuing for 5-10 minutes until her father, who also lived at the residence, entered the room and ordered him to leave.

The victim had not reported those incidents at the time and said she feared reprisal from Thorstenson or others if she went to the police.

The new charges in St. Louis County include kidnapping, third- and fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct and domestic assault. He also was charged by warrant in Douglas County with kidnapping, battery and two counts each of second-degree sexual assault, false imprisonment, and strangulation and suffocation.

The charges were filed as Thorstenson remains in jail for the allegations involving the other victim in August. In that case, he is accused of going on a date with a woman in Hermantown before getting into an argument with her while driving. He allegedly choked the victim, punched her in the face, dragged her back into the car as she tried to crawl away and forced her to engage in oral sex in the vehicle. She apparently blacked out and recalled next waking up in his bed at the Faxon Street address.

Thorstenson is charged in St. Louis County in that case with kidnapping, first-degree criminal sexual conduct, third-degree assault and domestic assault.

He also had faced felony counts of second-degree assault and false imprisonment in Douglas County, but prosecutors dismissed that complaint in October. District Attorney Mark Fruehauf said Wednesday that the decision was made "after investigation showed Minnesota to be the most appropriate forum to prosecute that alleged conduct." It was, however, dismissed without prejudice, which leaves the door open for potential refiling.

Thorstenson is being held without bail due to the alleged violation of his supervised release in a 2018 Idaho federal case in which he has already served prison time for possessing more than 200 pounds of marijuana with an intent to distribute.


His next court date is set for March 23 in Duluth.

To get help

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or
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