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Man pleads guilty to criminal sexual conduct

A case involving six charges of criminal sexual conduct was settled by plea bargain Monday, nearly three years after the charges were originally filed.

A case involving six charges of criminal sexual conduct was settled by plea bargain Monday, nearly three years after the charges were originally filed.

Michael George Ostoff, 47, of Spiritwood, N.D., pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct before Judge Dale Wolf in Carlton County Court Monday afternoon. The case had been set to go to trial this week.

Ostoff, a former Barnum-area resident, was originally charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for engaging in sexual penetration/contact with a person under the age of 13 and three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct for engaging in sexual contact with a person under the age of 16 involving multiple acts committed over an extended period of time.

In the complaint filed in the case, on May 2010, a juvenile reported to a school counselor having repeatedly been sexually abused by Ostoff. The alleged abuse occurred between January 1997 and January 2005, from the time the victim was age 5 or 6 years old until approximately age 12.

Law enforcement was contacted and Ostoff was subsequently interviewed by authorities.

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The complainant claimed the first encounter took place when Ostoff sexually fondled the victim in the family's deer stand near Barnum.

The same thing allegedly occurred in the deer stand on at least one subsequent occasion, as well as at a house in Cloquet and on numerous other occasions. Ostoff also allegedly had the victim perform oral sex on him during a stay at the family cabin near Barnum.

In court Monday, in front of the victim and close to 10 other people, Ostoff pleaded guilty to an amended count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct for massaging the victim on the right hip after that person had complained about numbness or tingling there. At one point in the massage, the victim became upset and told Ostoff to stop.

"You found out later that day that [the victim] believed the rub had turned sexual," Defense Attorney Sonia Sturdevant asked Ostoff during the statement.

"Yes," Ostoff said.

"You understand that the massage was inherently sexual in nature, your hand on [the victim's] buttocks with no clothes in between," Assistant Carlton County Attorney Michael Boese said.

"Yes," Ostoff said.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, prosecution and the defense agreed to a reduced sentence of a year and a day, which would be stayed, with three years of supervised probation. Ostoff is also required to get a psycho-sexual evaluation before his sentencing; any recommendations from that evaluation would also be part of his sentence. Also, because the sentence was stayed, Ostoff will not have to register as a sex offender in either Minnesota or North Dakota, where he currently resides.

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Boese said it was a difficult case, not only because Ostoff was on his fourth defense attorney -- because of turnover in that position -- by the time the case got to this point. The delayed reporting of the crimes also made it challenging.

"The victim was remembering events that occurred up to a decade before," Boese said, adding that the young person had tried to block out the abuse, with limited success.

Boese said the victim was satisfied with the plea agreement. No one except Ostoff testified in court Monday.

Related Topics: BARNUMCRIME
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