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Lawyers outline arguments in sexual assault trial

The prosecution and defense each made opening arguments Wednesday, Aug. 11, in the trial of Timothy Scott Young Jr., after two days of jury selection. Scott has been accused of both first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct stemming from an incident in April 2020 involving a person under 16 years old. He could serve up to 30 years if convicted.

Carlton County attorney Lauri Ketola addressed the jury first, after Sixth District Court Judge Robert Macauley read preliminary instructions to the jury.

“This is a case about a sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl on Reservation Road in April 2020,” she said.

Ketola told the jury that the victim’s family life was full of turmoil, and after her stepsister bought an old camper, she would often spend time with the defendant in the camper and became close to him.

“He became her confidant; her friend. He also supplied her with cigarettes and alcohol,” Ketola said. “One night, on April 30, [the victim] — wearing jeans, a T-shirt and a baggy sweatshirt — couldn’t sleep. So she went out to the camper to talk with Tim. The next thing she knows, her clothes are on the ground, and Tim Young is on top of her, forcing himself on her,” Ketola said.

Afterwards, Ketola told the jury that the victim went back to her room and tried to sleep. “The next morning, she was bleeding. She called her aunt, who told her to go see the doctor,” Ketola said. “[The victim] is 14. She lives out in the country. She doesn’t drive. It was three days before she went to the doctor.”

Ketola told the jury that the victim told the doctor she had had consensual sex.

Ketola continued: “Soon after, [the victim] was sent to a juvenile mental health treatment facility near the Twin Cities. In the course of therapy, she disclosed the sexual assault. She told her father, who told her she had to call 911 herself. With the help of her therapist, she worked up the courage to call 911 and report the assault.” The call was dispatched to the Fond du Lac Tribal Police Department on Aug. 21, four months after the alleged assault.

Attorney Elizabeth Polling from the Minnesota Public Defender’s office gave a very short opening statement on behalf of the accused.

“This case is not about sexual assault. This case is about power. It’s about the victim’s power over those in her family, particularly her father,” Polling told the jury. She then asked the jury to listen closely to the evidence.

“You will hear that evidence of the victim’s assault came during her therapy and was in the context of her relationship with her father, … ,” Polling said. (The Pine Knot withheld his name to protect the identity of the victim.) “Listen carefully to the evidence and you’ll find my client not guilty,” she concluded. The defense’s opening statement lasted less than three minutes.

The accused has had a prior conviction for sexual assault of a minor in Wisconsin in 2007. In a pretrial order, Judge Macauley ruled that evidence of the 2007 conviction was admissible but only if the victim in that case, who is now about 30 years old, testified in person. Young was required to register as a predatory offender for that offense, but was noncompliant at the time of the alleged assault. Macauley also ruled that Young be physically restrained during the trial and authorized use of a shock vest, so that any restraints must not be visible to the jury. The trial is expected to last through Friday.

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