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Scanlon man sentenced to life in prison for sexual assault, kidnapping

After being found guilty by a jury last month, Dennis Michael St. John Jr. was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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CARLTON — A Scanlon man has been sentenced to life in prison for sexual assault and kidnapping after a jury found him guilty of the crimes last month.

Dennis Michael St. John Jr. received the sentence from Judge Rebekka Stumme on Monday, Feb. 28.

After a week of testimony from witnesses, experts, the accuser and the defendant, a jury found Dennis Michael St. John Jr. guilty of five of the six charges against him.

Stumme said the verdict reached by the jury and the evidence presented during the trial was proof the victim was tortured and St. John had control over her to hold her against her will.

“I hope that when you are in prison you can review your life and own up to your role here,” she said.

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During the trial in January, St. John’s defense attorney JD Schmid argued the defendant and victim had consensual sex, which was the cause of the injuries the victim sustained.

Some of the injuries included bruising along one side of her body.

The evidence, testimony from the victim and others and the verdict proved the injuries were not from consensual rough sex, Stumme said.

“Frankly you are going to be locked up for the rest of your life,” she said.

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Dennis Michael St. John Jr.
Contributed / Carlton County Jail

St. John was sentenced to 98 months in prison for kidnapping and life in prison without the possibility of release for first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The two sentences will be served concurrently.

Carlton County Attorney Lauri Ketola also requested a $12,000 fine for St. John, which Stumme said was a minor issue for the court in light of the rest of the sentence.

Schmid argued the fine was cruel and unjust as the defendant was facing life in prison and qualified for a public defender due to his financial status.

“Mr. St. John is going to prison for the rest of his life. It is practically impossible to pay what is being requested,” Schmid said.

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Stumme decided to create her own path when it came to the fine, by making it $1,000 with an $85 surcharge, as she had never seen it applied to someone going to prison for life.

While she could not make St. John apologize for what he has been found guilty of, Stumme said there is a lot he has to make amends for.

“The small amount of fines should go to the state and go to help other victims of sexual assault,” she said.

Despite not offering comments to the court during the hearing, St. John gave a parting statement toward the prosecution after smacking his lips together while he walked out.

“I like getting a kiss when I’m getting f------,” he said.

Ketola said defendants on occasion make comments while leaving a courtroom after a sentencing hearing.

“I would like to thank the jury for sitting through a really difficult case and making the right decision,” she said. “They returned a just verdict to make the community a little bit safer.”

Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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