A Duluth man will likely serve less than two years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a teenager more than 20 years ago.
Robert Kent Pioro, 63, was sentenced to 33 months in prison by Judge Robert Macauley Friday, Feb. 5, in Carlton’s Sixth Judicial Court. A plea agreement with the Carlton County Attorney’s Office required Pioro to plead guilty to two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, while a third charge was dismissed. Pioro will be eligible for conditional release after 22 months in prison and will be subject to five years of supervision following his release.
The charges stem from incidents when Pioro was a teacher and coach in the Carlton School District from 1999-2001, according to the criminal complaint.
Pioro began to “take notice” of the victim when she was in eighth grade practicing basketball in the Carlton High School gym, the complaint said. He allegedly began developing a close relationship with the victim while he was coaching her. The victim described their relationship initially like that of a father and daughter, according to the complaint.
Pioro eventually invited the victim to his Duluth home in October 2000 when she was 16 years old and his wife was out of town. Pioro, 42 at the time, laid the victim down on a daybed in his home and kissed her, the complaint said. The victim told authorities she "began to cry," but that Pioro "told her that families kiss on the lips," the complaint said. Pioro also told the victim he could lose his job if she told anyone.
The pair allegedly spent time alone together at Carlton High School, South Terrace Elementary School and Four Seasons Recreation Center in Carlton from December 2000 to January 2001, with Pioro kissing and hugging the victim on a regular basis. At the time, he was her coach.
The complaint describes an escalation in the assaults, including intercourse. The assaults or attempted assaults detailed in the complaint happened in Carlton, Roseau, Kittson, St. Louis and Ramsey counties, as well as in Douglas County, Wisconsin.
The crime is within the statute of limitations because the victim was under 18 at the time of the offense and reported it in November 2019. Minnesota law allows three years from the time of the report for a crime of this type if the victim is under 18, according to state statute.
At the time of his arrest, Pioro was working as a teacher at Lincoln Park Middle School in Duluth. He was placed on administrative leave after his arrest and left the school district July 22, according to Duluth Public Schools spokesperson Katie Kaufman.