Man bailed out by Freedom Fund subject of dozens of ‘sexual behavior’ complaints from prison staff

A prison insider told Alpha News Tillman "should never have been" set free. 

Shawn Michael Tillman/Ramsey County Sheriff's Office

Warning: This article contains graphic content that some readers may find disturbing.

Shawn Michael Tillman, a St. Paul man charged with murder after getting bailed out of jail, has been described as “the most inappropriate sexual predator you’ve ever seen in a prison setting.”

A prison insider told Alpha News Tillman “should never have been” set free.

Tillman has an extensive criminal record dating back to 2006, including convictions for assault, indecent exposure, and illegal firearm possession. During previous stints in prison, staff had filed nearly 100 complaints about Tillman’s “sexual behavior,” according to the source, who estimated the number to be much higher.

A July 2016 criminal complaint states that Tillman “repeatedly victimized female staff by exposing his penis and masturbating publicly” while incarcerated in the Oak Park Heights prison.

“Defendant has had in excess of 69 occurrences of exposing his penis and/or masturbating when female staff is present. During the incidents of exposure, Defendant makes remarks such as ‘you know you like it,'” the complaint says.

Tillman was considered one of the “most prolific masturbators,” according to the source.

“He masturbated all day, every day. Locked in his cell, people [walked] by every half-hour and … [saw] him,” the source said.

Another complaint reveals that Tillman threw a styrofoam cup containing urine and feces at a corrections officer at the Lino Lakes prison.

On April 29, the controversial Minnesota Freedom Fund paid Tillman’s bail after yet another arrest for indecent exposure.

Less than one month later, on May 20, Tillman was rearrested after allegedly shooting and killing a man around 4:00 a.m. on a light rail platform because he had a “beef” with him. Tillman has been charged with second-degree murder and faces up to 40 years behind bars.

The Minnesota Freedom Fund released a statement offering “thoughts” for the victim’s family following Tillman’s arrest on suspicion of murder.  They did not apologize for paying Tillman’s bail and even went so far as to defend it.

“When determining whether to provide bail support, Minnesota Freedom Fund evaluates several factors including bail amount and a defendant’s appearance history, and we prioritize people at risk of losing housing and employment or who are facing challenges like homelessness, mental illness, and chemical dependency,” the group said.

“We all want and deserve to be safe. But it is neither just nor effective to respond to violence by denying bail and pre-emptively punishing people who are disproportionately poor, Black, brown, and Indigenous,” the statement added.

The Minnesota Freedom Fund has received support or outright praise from Democrats in the past, including a tweet from Vice President Kamala Harris in June 2020 during the height of the George Floyd riots.

For their part, state Republicans have been looking to pass a bill that would prevent nonprofits like the Minnesota Freedom Fund from “providing payment to a person or to a state court in order to satisfy a bail condition determined by the court.”


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.