Max Mason pardoned in century-old rape case

The Minnesota Board of Pardons has approved the posthumous pardon of Max Mason, a circus worker convicted of raping Irene Tusken in 1920. The incident in Duluth is better known for the fates of three others accused: Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie, all three victims of a lynch mob.

Following the lynching, Mason and another circus worker, William Miller, were tried for the alleged rape. Miller was acquitted, but an all-white jury convicted Mason, who was sentenced to 7-30 years. He was discharged from prison in 1925 on the condition that he leave the state.

Mason’s pardon is the first posthumous pardon granted in Minnesota’s history. His potential role in any crime had always been in question. In a 1923 letter to the warden of the Minnesota Board of Parole, the superintendent of the Duluth Mission asked for the release of Mason, stating he was “convinced of his absolute innocence.”

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