Pankow in court to face charges that he exposed himself to two men

WILLMAR -- A Willmar social worker accused of exposing himself at Robbins Island made an appearance in court Wednesday on misdemeanor charges of indecent exposure and disorderly conduct.

WILLMAR -- A Willmar social worker accused of exposing himself at Robbins Island made an appearance in court Wednesday on misdemeanor charges of indecent exposure and disorderly conduct.

Terry Lee Pankow, 56, a former Woodland Centers employee, was cited Sept. 15 by Willmar police after allegedly being caught masturbating in his car and propositioning two men in the park. Pankow received a summons to appear Wednesday in Kandiyohi County District Court for the citation.

Court minutes from Wednesday show Pankow will be represented by attorney Donald H. Burgett. Burgett refused to comment Wednesday.

According to the court minutes, no formal plea was entered. He is scheduled to be in court again Nov. 7 for a pre-trial hearing.

According to the Sept. 15 police report, two male witnesses told Willmar police officers that Pankow parked next to their vehicle at Robbins Island, began masturbating and asked them if they wanted to engage in oral sex. Pankow later denied the allegations in a police interview at his home.


The police report states that Pankow told police he had parked at the Robbins Island boat landing to let his car cool off but that he was there only a couple minutes until the temperature light went off.

Pankow is a licensed independent clinical social worker, the highest license level a social worker can attain.

He most recently was employed by Woodland Centers of Willmar, which provides mental health services across west central Minnesota.

According to Tribune archives, Pankow began working for Woodland Centers in 1994 when he was hired to coordinate services at the Chippewa Center in Montevideo.

Little more than a week after the incident, Woodland Centers CEO Eugene Bonynge told the Tribune that Pankow was no longer an employee of Woodland Centers.

Bonynge commented briefly on the situation, stating the high importance Woodland Centers places on providing privacy for both patients and clients. Bonynge wouldn't comment further on how Pankow's employment was ended.

"We are a professional organization," he said. "We treat both clients and employees professionally."

Pankow has never faced disciplinary action from the Minnesota Board of Social Work. According to his licensing file, he acknowledged having a criminal conviction on license renewal forms submitted in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2006. Accompanying paperwork explaining the conviction was not released publicly.


No record of a conviction was found by the West Central Tribune, but Pankow did plead guilty to misdemeanor theft in 2005 in Kandiyohi County. It is not considered a conviction because Pankow received a stay of adjudication, but the court file still exists and is public.

Kandiyohi County Attorney Boyd Beccue said stays of adjudication are often issued as a way the "sentencing court can give someone an incentive."

Generally, when a stay of adjudication is issued, a conviction is not entered at the time the defendant pleads guilty. Instead, the defendant is put on a conditional probationary period. If the defendant is able to meet the terms of the probationary period, the charge does not go on his or her criminal record, Beccue said.

Pankow pleaded guilty to theft in 2005 after a woman accused him of stealing several pairs of underwear, towels and a pillow in October of 2004 at a Willmar Laundromat.

According to the criminal complaint, Pankow fled an officer on foot after being approached at the Laundromat. Pankow allegedly pulled a bottle of vodka from his back seat, but dumped the contents out while running from the officer. The officer eventually caught up to him, noting that he smelled like alcohol, and escorted him back to the Laundromat.

A woman inside the Laundromat informed the officer that Pankow had placed some women's laundry into a dryer before the officer arrived. According to the complaint, the officer found a pile of women's clothing in the dryer, including bras, panties, slips, T-shirts and blouses. A wallet belonging to another man was found in Pankow's car. Pankow was also in possession of a watch with another person's name on it.

According to witness statements contained in the criminal complaint, Pankow took a woman's clothing after she left to run some errands. The witness stated that Pankow took the woman's clothing out of the dryer and smelled all of it.

When the woman returned, she had to take several items back from Pankow, and told authorities she didn't notice that her underwear were missing until she was on her way home. She later said that none of the clothes recovered by police belonged to her.


Pankow was taken to Woodland Centers by the police to be placed in the detoxification unit. The report said a preliminary breath test performed at Woodland Centers indicated a blood-alcohol level of 0.37 percent -- nearly five times the current legal driving limit.

According to the complaint, Pankow called the Willmar Police Department the next day, stating that the incident was all a "big mistake" and expressing concern about what any of the witnesses at the Laundromat had said about the incident.

Pankow pleaded guilty to the charge on Jan. 25, 2005, under the agreement that he would receive a stay of adjudication -- meaning it would not go on his criminal record if he completed a probation period. He was placed on probation for six months and fined $100. He was also ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous.

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