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'Not guilty' is verdict in county sexual assault trial

Cloquet’s Timothy Scott Young Jr., 38, was found not guilty after a weeklong jury trial in Carlton County Sixth District Court Friday, Aug. 13. Young had been accused of two felony counts of sexual assault after an alleged incident in April 2020 involving a girl under the age of 16. He could have served up to 30 years if convicted.

After two days of jury selection last week, Carlton County Attorney Laurie Ketola presented her case. The victim, now 16, testified, carrying a blanket and a teddy bear for security. Other witnesses included her doctor, a therapist, several law enforcement officers, an aunt, and her father — who is technically not related to her, but has acted as her guardian for most of her life. Each witness was cross-examined by defense attorney Elizabeth Polling from the Minnesota Public Defender’s Office.

According to the criminal complaint, a 15-year-old girl called dispatch in August 2020 to report a sexual assault by Young, who was known to her. In the interview, she said she went to a camper on the property where Young was living, looking for a friend. She reported that Young asked her to stay and talk to him. When she went to leave, the girl said he blocked the door and then sexually assaulted her and physically harmed her. When he stopped, she ran back to the house, afraid and scared. She said Young threatened to hurt her if she told anyone.

The girl’s father testified that he took her to the doctor 12 days after he was told about the encounter. He first heard the girl refer to it as an assault in mid-July, while she was in residential therapy and learned she was not going home as she had thought, but rather was required to stay in the facility for several more months. She notified her father, who told her she needed to call 911. While the county attorney said in opening remarks that her father refused to call 911 for her, records showed he did call 911 minutes after the girl called 911.

No other witnesses corroborated her story in court. Her doctor and aunt both testified that the victim told them she had recently engaged in consensual sexual activity with her boyfriend, and her doctor testified that she had asked her father to leave the room so she could ask the victim if the partner was a peer or someone older.

The girl, she said, told her the partner was her age. There was no physical evidence of assault, and there were some inconsistencies between her report to law enforcement, her doctor, her aunt, and the First Witness interview, which the prosecution explained were minor, but which the defense claimed was reasonable doubt.

The defendant also testified on his own behalf. He denied the allegations and said that he was not the girl’s friend or confidant, as the prosecutor stated in her opening remarks, but that his interactions consisted mostly of telling the girl that her stepsister, who was the defendant’s girlfriend, wasn’t in the camper when the victim came looking for her.

At one point, the defendant removed his shirt and showed the jury his upper body, which had several prominent tattoos. The defense pointed out that the girl had identified the defendant but had said several times that he removed his shirt during the assault but also that she did not notice any tattoos. The prosecution attributed the faulty memory to the trauma of the encounter, while the defense claimed the girl had not been assaulted at all.

The jury deliberated for about six hours Friday before reaching a verdict of not guilty that evening. Young, who is facing other charges not related to the incident, was returned to the county jail.