Two Minnesota teenagers had allegedly been communicating with a 23-year-old man through text messages and social media for a week when they were reported missing. According to CBS Minnesota, the disappearance of the girls, both 13, prompted law enforcement to issue a release asking for the public’s help in the search. The girls were eventually found at the man’s home, crying and huddling behind a couch.
Immediately, the man was arrested and charged with criminal sexual conduct and kidnapping, and his bail was set at $300,000.
Unfolding the story
According to the criminal complaint, law enforcement discovered that the man met the two teenagers through a website on which they could message each other and video chat. That communication included sexually explicit messages, and the girls disclosed that they were 13. Law enforcement also say that the messages show the man expressing concern about getting caught and serving time in jail.
The night they went missing, the girls told their parents that they would be staying at each other’s houses. During the investigation, the man told law enforcement that he thought the girls were unhappy and no longer wanted to be in their homes. He then picked them up and brought them to his house, which he shared with his parents. The complaint states that the sexual assault occurred in the basement, where the man told the girls they had to stay.
Consequences of sexual misconduct
Prior to this incident, the man had served as a coach for both a high school volleyball team and a girls’ softball team, and he has since been banned from both. According to CBS Minnesota, prosecutors expect to pursue the maximum punishment.
The age of consent in Minnesota is 16; however, youths between 13 and 16 can consent to sex with someone who is less than four years older than them. Under the Minnesota statute for criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, criminal penalties for a 23-year-old engaging in sexual activity with a 13-year-old could include up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $40,000. For a first-degree charge, prosecution must prove at least one of the following factors:
- That the defendant was in a position of authority over the victim
- That the victim feared great bodily harm
- That the defendant had a dangerous weapon
- That personal injury occurred
There are lesser criminal sexual conduct charges that carry with them less severe penalties, such as fifth-degree allegations that could result in a gross misdemeanor. People who are accused of sex crimes should consult with an attorney as soon as possible.