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Published March 04, 2013, 02:10 PM

Clearbrook, Minn. Man Sentenced for Sexual Abuse

A 61-year-old Clearbrook, Minn., man was sentenced last month to six months in jail and 25 years probation after pleading guilty to sexual crimes with a girl, beginning when she was younger than seven.

By: Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald

A 61-year-old Clearbrook, Minn., man was sentenced last month to six months in jail and 25 years probation after pleading guilty to sexual crimes with a girl, beginning when she was younger than seven.

Rodney Erickson, 61, pleaded guilty in October to second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a victim under 13, which carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.

State District Judge Donald Aandal sentenced him Feb. 15 to 180 days in jail and 25 years of probation.

According to a social worker in Bemidji, claims of similar sexual crimes by Erickson were investigated several times going back to 1998, but never resulted in criminal charges.

Because Erickson is the brother of Clearwater County Sheriff Mike Erickson, the case was prosecuted by the county attorney’s office in Bemidji in neighboring Beltrami County.

Clearbrook is about 40 miles northwest of Bemidji.

According to the criminal complaint of probable cause, a Beltrami County social services employee contacted a sheriff’s investigator in March 2012 about allegations from a young girl who told her parent that Erickson had molested her.

Because of the conflict of interest with Sheriff Erickson being a relative, the case was handled by Beltrami County officials.

The girl said Erickson had babysat her and her siblings and from her earliest memories had sexually molested and assaulted her, despite her efforts to avoid him, until her family moved from a residence near Erickson’s when she was in the early elementary grades.

She told her parent about the incidents in 2011 when she became depressed and had thoughts of suicide, according to the complaint.

Interviewed by sheriff’s investigators from Bemidji last April, Erickson denied the girl’s claims. But in October, he pleaded guilty to the charge.

According to the complaint, the social services investigator in Bemidji told sheriff’s investigators “she had received reports from Clearwater County regarding claims of sexual abuse by Erickson in separate cases from 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2008. None of these investigations resulted in prosecutions.”

According to state court records, Erickson does not have previous criminal convictions.

Erickson was ordered to report to jail March 15. He also had to register as a predatory offender.

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