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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Superior man accused of child sex assault

Credit Forum News Service

North Dakota

Judge says he'll rule 2011 abortion law unconstitutional

FARGO -- At the end of the final day of testimony Thursday in the Fargo abortion clinic's challenge to a 2011 state law, Judge Wickham Corwin advised attorneys that he will rule that all of the challenged provisions in the law are unconstitutional.

Corwin said he's taking the case under advisement, adding that the trial did nothing to change his mind from his earlier statements in his memorandum of opinion.

He also called the legislation "simply wrongheaded." His official opinion will be filed at a later date.

During testimony Thursday, the state of North Dakota tried to defend a 2011 law that opponents claim would ban medication abortions.

The trial began Tuesday. Corwin earlier granted a temporary injunction to keep the law from taking effect.


Attorney general says ed board violated meeting laws

BISMARCK -- The State Board of Higher Education violated open meeting laws during a Jan. 16 dinner at Chancellor Hamid Shirvani's home and must remedy the infraction within seven days, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Thursday.

Board President Duaine Espegard said the violation occurred because of a misunderstanding by the board on how the meeting was classified - an important factor because it meant the meeting should have followed stricter notice requirements.

"The state's open meetings laws are complex, but the State Board of Higher Education is committed to following them at all times," Espegard said in a written statement. "Now that we know how the AG views these meetings, we will change our process for the future."

The Forum newspaper requested on March 9 that Stenehjem look into possible violations of the state's open meeting laws during the board's Jan. 16 and March 6 dinner events.

Stenehjem said the board needs to remedy the Jan. 16 meeting violations within seven days by creating separate minutes that accurately list attendees and a more detailed description of what was discussed. Members who were there also must write their own description of the meeting, and their notes will be treated as open records.

Stenehjem said the March 6 dinner social held at a Bismarck restaurant was not subject to open meeting laws because board members said no official business was discussed.


Fargo man held on 22 counts of child porn

FARGO -- A Fargo man was charged Thursday with 22 counts of possessing child pornography, some of which involved children between the ages of 1 and 3.

Aaron James Olson, 34, was arrested Tuesday at his Fargo home after police executed a search warrant, said Fargo Deputy Chief Pat Claus.

Court documents state that police found DVDs and a computer containing child pornography at the home, and that during a police interview, Olson told a detective he was addicted to pornography. About 30 percent of his pornography featured children, documents state.

Olson was charged Thursday in Cass County District Court with 22 counts of possession of certain prohibited materials, a Class C felony.

Olson was being held on $50,000 bail at the Cass County Jail. His next appearance is set for May 16.


Man fires at officers, surrenders after being wounded

WILLISTON, N.D. -- A man here fired at Williston police Thursday afternoon but surrendered to the officers after they shot back and wounded him.

Police responded to 407 W. Broadway in Williston after a woman called 911 at 2:34 p.m. to report that a gunshot had been fired in her basement, said Williston Police Chief Jim Lokken.

As police responded, a subject fired at officers, who called for backup and returned fire.

Officers made phone contact with the man, who had been wounded, and a detective was able to talk him out of the house, Lokken said. The man was taken to Mercy Medical Center in Williston with two gunshot wounds, Lokken said.

No other injuries were reported.

Officers from the Williston police, Williams County Sheriff's Office, North Dakota Highway Patrol and the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation responded to the scene in the residential area near downtown Williston.

The BCI has taken over the case, Lokken said. The man's name was not released Thursday.


Man charged with raping Moorhead woman

MOORHEAD, Minn. -- A Fargo man is accused of raping a woman here who was incapacitated and vomiting from alcohol while her three children were in the bed with her.

Hem Khadka, 25, was charged Wednesday with a single felony count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, which carries a potential 15 years in prison.

Court documents filed in the case say the victim reported that she and her sister had been drinking the night of April 11. Khadka later joined them, and all three went to the victim's home in Moorhead, the documents say.

At some point during the evening, the sister left. She told police she didn't see Khadka leave.

While he was at the woman's home, Khadka brought her a garbage can to vomit into, according to court documents. She fell asleep and awoke to find Khakda on top of her, while her three children were in the bed, documents say. The woman said she eventually kicked him off her.

Court documents state that during a subsequent police interview, Khadka admitted having sex with the woman and said he thought it was OK because they were both drunk.

Khadka was being held at the Clay County Jail on $25,000 bond with conditions, including no contact with the victim, or $60,000 without conditions.


South Dakota

Snow cuts into South Dakota drought

MITCHELL, S.D. -- Recent spring snowfall has improved drought conditions in South Dakota.

For the first time since August, none of the state is classified as being in exceptional drought, the highest ranking on the U.S. Drought Monitor. The monitor is maintained by the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Neb.

The new Drought Monitor Map was released Thursday. It shows none of South Dakota in exceptional drought, compared to 13.8 percent of the state in exceptional drought last week.

All of the state remains in some form of drought, however, with classifications ranging from abnormally dry to extreme drought.

The far northeast corner of the state is the least affected by drought and is categorized as abnormally dry. Expanding out from there, the greater part of the northeast portion is in moderate drought.

Much of western, central and southeastern South Dakota is in severe drought, with large pockets of extreme drought.

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Brothers leave $3 million to S.D. hospital

WINNER, S.D. -- Winner Regional Healthcare Center announced Thursday that it has received a gift of more than $3 million by two brothers, the late Raymond and John Erickson.

John Osse, interim CEO of Winner Regional Healthcare Center, announced the gift at a public event to honor the brothers.

"We are filled with gratitude today with thoughts of two local men who, at the end of their lives, chose to bestow the gift of health on our community," Osse said in a news release.

The Ericksons were farmers and lifelong residents of Winner. They named Winner Regional Healthcare Center as the sole beneficiary of their estate.

Winner Regional Healthcare Center serves a seven-county area. A member of the Sanford Health system, it consists of a nonprofit hospital, long-term care facility and rural health clinic.

Osse said the governing board will determine the best use for the money, from a range of projects that could include renovation of the facility and campus improvements.

John Erickson died in 2009. Younger brother Raymond was John's sole beneficiary. He died in November 2011.



Superior man accused of child sex assault

SUPERIOR, Wis. -- A Superior man accused of sexually assaulting a child made his initial appearance Tuesday in Douglas County Circuit Court.

Brian Albert Jensen, 36, faces two counts of sexual assault of a child under 16 years of age. Cash bail was set at $20,000 with the condition that he have no contact with the alleged victim and no unsupervised contact with minors under the age of 18.

He is accused of having a child perform oral sex on him while he performed oral sex on the child and of trying to get the child to touch him sexually, according to the criminal complaint. If convicted, Jensen faces a maximum penalty of 40 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000 per count. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.