St. Paul lawyer Rachel Aburime says her relationship with Daniel Larscheid was short and unpleasant. They’d both likely agree that the aftermath has been equally unpleasant – though much longer.
They met in 2014, says Aburime, when she was out with friends at Maynards on Lake Minnetonka. He’d overheard her talking about law school, so he walked right up to converse about how difficult that must be. They ended up exchanging numbers.
According to court documents, she would eventually accuse the Duluth dentist of abusing her physically, sexually, and verbally during the five months or so they were together, one time sending her to the emergency room. At the time, she was pregnant with their son. Larscheid insists there was only verbal abuse in the relationship, and that it was mutual.
The boy is now 3 and has never met his father, she says.
After they broke up, he sent her emails calling her a “whore,” a “fucking slut,” and a “two-bit skank,” she claims in court documents. Aburime says she was forced to file a paternity action because Larscheid wouldn’t admit to being the father.
They mutually agreed to a $2,000-a-month child support payment. After Larscheid filed to have it lowered, a magistrate hiked it to about $2,300 a month – and sanctioned him for filing a frivolous petition, according to court transcripts.
The bad blood would continue. In a petition filed in March, Aburime says Larscheid would go for months without paying, then send the arrears in a lump sum. At one point in 2016, he hadn’t paid for eight months and owed her $16,000, she asserted.
At the time, Aburime was raising her kid while studying for the bar exam. Larscheid, meanwhile, is the owner of a Duluth dental clinic. According to Aburime's appeal, his annual income by 2017 was about $363,000. He was wealthy enough to buy himself a $130,000 plane, she says.
Last November, he fell behind again, Aburime claims, owing $4,800. She was forced her to overdraw her bank account and extend her credit card limits.
She called the Hennepin County child support office. It’s the agency’s job to, among other things, enforce court-ordered child support payments. Yet the worker she spoke to, Patricia Thompson, didn’t have a clear solution to the problem.
Larscheid wasn’t returning Thompson’s calls, she told Aburime. And when he did, it was only to tell her that he’d “mailed a payment.” But Aburime claims it hadn’t arrived. (Thompson no longer works for Hennepin County and could not be reached for comment.)
So Aburime called Larscheid’s clinic. She claims in court documents that Larscheid told her he’d paid already, then hung up. When she called again, he told her not to call his office, Aburime says. The third time she called, he said he was calling the police.
She admits to calling a few more times before taking to the internet, writing two reviews of Larscheid’s dental practice – one on Facebook, the other on Google.
“The owner is a scumbag,” her Facebook post read. “I recently contacted the business and was hung up on by the owner. He has a child out of wedlock that he hasn’t met. He also lost his dental license due to shady record keeping practices. I would give this place zero stars if possible.”
Duluth police soon called, telling her to remove the posts, she says. The department had no power over factual speech, Aburime protested. She took them down anyway.
The police report says the officer asked Aburime to stop contacting Larscheid. Aburime told the officer she hadn’t, so the officer brought up the posts – at which point Aburime hung up. Deputy Chief Nick Lukozsky says the department doesn’t have the right to force anyone to take down an online review, but they can advise people to do so as part of conflict resolution.
Larscheid took Aburime to court for harassment, asking for a restraining order. In court files, he claims both parties were “verbally abusive.” He denies physically abusing her. He says he cut ties with Aburime after she threatened to report “false allegations” to the Minnesota Dental Board.
The lapse in child support payments, he added, was simply a mishap, the result of a new bookkeeper. A check bounced, so the state required he send them manually.
When she called his office, he told her he was aware of the late payments, but he was too busy with meetings and patients to talk. He’d call back later.
“And then the beratement started,” he said. “It was, ‘Bitch, you know my number. You need to call me immediately.’” He eventually hung up.
After the fourth call, he said he’d called the police. She would call seven to 10 more times, he claimed. He told his staff to stop answering.
Later, his staff discovered the online reviews. “...As a doctor in a small town, I can’t be labeled a scumbag or a deadbeat,” Larschied said in court. “Patients would lose their trust in me and I have worked very hard in my career.” He filed for the restraining order the next day.
Judge John Schulte ruled in Larscheid’s favor. He granted a yearlong restraining order barring contact – no calling the office, no texting, no anything. If Aburime wanted her payments, he said, she should have relied on her child support worker. Her actions could only damage Larscheid’s ability to pay.
“And if all you are concerned about is being paid, this is maybe the most counterproductive thing I have ever seen somebody do,” Schulte said.
Aburime noted that Hennepin County had already let Larscheid get eight months behind on child support without losing his driver’s license or his dental license – possible consequences for being in arrears on child support in Minnesota.
“...So it failed me,” she said.
Hennepin child support manager Casey White says the agency’s general go-to when someone owes back payments is to contact their employer and get them withheld from their paychecks. But in cases where someone is self-employed, like Larscheid, things get more complicated. There’s a list of tactics the office will use before it declares the person in contempt of court, including suspending a license or reporting them to credit bureaus.
But these steps take time – time someone who depends on child support doesn’t necessarily have. Just suspending a driver’s license can take up to nine months.
“I can certainly understand being frustrated,” she says.
Aburime appealed. She had the right to post reviews if they were truthful, she says, and the phone calls were just an attempt to get the money he owed her. Her motion was denied by Schulte, who said Aburime hadn’t shown the “compelling circumstances” required of another shot. The restraining order would remain in full effect.
She’s now taking her case to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Larscheid declined to comment on the case, other than to complain about her repeated calls to his office, and how she feigned being a patient to write those online reviews. He also said he was not currently behind on child support.
Either way, Aburime says he’s still behind on child support. And the battle wears on.