BREAKING: Man convicted of attempted kidnapping in Watertown sentenced to prison

July 6, 2022
Mike Tanner


WATERTOWN, S.D.–A Canby, Minnesota man who attempted to kidnap a young girl from a Watertown store more than four years ago was sentenced today.

Thirty nine year-old Peter Groenhoff was convicted by a jury of Second Degree Kidnapping in January.

He was arrested on May 27, 2018. He was working at Menard’s at the time. That day, while working, he picked up a young girl in the store without her parent’s permission, and began quickly walking away from the girl’s family.

The father of the child pursued Groehnoff, asking him to stop, but Groenhoff continued on, and was chased into the Menard’s employee break area where he was held until police arrived.

KWAT News was at this morning’s sentencing, in which defense attorney Tim Cummings requested a sentence he hoped would address Groehnoff’s, “mental health needs.”

Cummings said his client’s criminal history consisted of one speeding ticket, and that Groehoff has always had a job and been a productive citizen.

But the state aruged that Groenhoff presents a, “significant public safety risk,” that he, “lacks insight into the thoughtfulness of his actions,” and that the incident was, “extremely traumatic for the girl and her family.”

Judge Carmen Means said around the time of the attempted kidnapping, Groehoff seemed to, “have a fixation on young girls.” She rejected a request for a suspended imposition of sentence, saying her concern has to be that of, “protection of the public.”

She sentenced Groehoff to 15 years in the South Dakota Penitentiary with three years suspended, and gave Groenhoff credit for 1,502 days spent in jail.

He was also ordered to repay Codington County $1,800 for the cost of his psycho-sexual evaluation.