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TH juvenile arrested on felony charges

A 16-year old Two Harbors resident was arrested last Friday and charged with two juvenile felony counts of criminal sexual conduct. The youth was arraigned in Sixth District juvenile court on Monday. He has not yet entered a plea.

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Although Minnesota courts now open proceedings in juvenile cases where felony level charges have been brought, the suspect’s initial hearing was closed to the public by Judge Mark Munger. The Lake County News-Chronicle, however, obtained the petition — the juvenile court equivalent of a criminal complaint in adult court — describing the alleged incident and subsequent charges. The information in the document is based on statements by the alleged victim, a young woman, with additional input from law enforcement, school officials and those who interacted with the young woman before and after the incident.

According to the petition, the suspect and the young woman were both in attendance at a public event on the evening of Feb. 3. The young woman alleges that the suspect, who she knew prior to the incident, asked her to step outside of the room where the activity was taking place because he wanted to tell her something. She alleges that he invited her into a bathroom, saying that it was a soundproof place where they could talk. The suspect then allegedly pressed her to the wall, grabbing and holding her, and ignored her repeated demands that he stop. The young woman reported that she tried to push him away but was unable to do so, and that she was crying but “didn’t scream because she was afraid (he) would hurt her more.”

The young woman said she again told him “no” as he held her with one hand and tried to take off his pants with the other, but was unable to remove his clothing or hers. She provided a description of his attire to law enforcement officials as “grey sweats or pants, or light pants without a zipper or button and a grey and white thick striped shirt … and dark grey boxers or briefs.”

Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy Dawn Valure reviewed security videos from the area around the bathroom and said they show a female and a male entering the bathroom at 8:26 p.m., and emerging 9 minutes later.

Another security video from the same time period showed a male wearing “a lighter colored striped shirt and dark pants,” the petition said.

The young woman told officials that on Feb. 4, the day after the incident, she confronted the suspect about what had happened. The petition quoting the young woman’s account said that he responded by saying “he wished he could wrap his hands around her throat and squeeze until she shut up.”

Lake County Deputy Christian von Goertz submitted an application and supporting affidavit to the court and was granted a search warrant on Feb. 6 by Judge Michael Cuzzo. Just after 10 a.m. that day, he executed the warrant and searched the suspect’s residence, taking into custody several items of clothing, two cell phones, an iPod and a laptop computer.

The charges include one felony count of second degree criminal sexual conduct; a charge that indicates circumstances existed at the time of the crime which could cause the complainant to have a reasonable fear of imminent great bodily harm. The suspect was also charged with fourth degree criminal sexual conduct; engaging in sexual contact with another and using force or coercion to make contact.

Lake County Attorney Laura Auron said that the suspect, who is presumed innocent until proven guilty, is being held at Arrowhead Juvenile Center. A date for the next hearing in his case has not yet been set.