Charges dismissed against Barnum man
January 19, 2024
Last week, the Carlton County’s office dismissed two first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges previously filed against Chad Arnold Connor. The reason listed was “prosecutorial discretion.”
When contacted, Carlton County Attorney Lauri Ketola declined to discuss Connor’s case specifically. She did, however, talk about the challenge of prosecuting cases that revolve around conduct from years before.
“It can be difficult to prove,” said Ketola, who has made prosecuting sexual abuse a priority. She noted that her office doesn’t file charges unless there’s agreement between law enforcement, the county attorney’s office and the judge that there is probable cause.
“It can ruin someone’s life, so I think long and hard before filing any [criminal sex] charges,” Ketola said. “Also, proving these cases to a jury can be really difficult. If I don’t think I have a good shot at a guilty verdict, I’m not going to prosecute.”
Connor told the Pine Knot that the charges negatively affected his business, and said he was innocent.
The charges against Connor were originally filed in February 2023, after a teenager who knew Connor when she was younger told her mother Connor had sexually abused her starting when she was 6 years old.
Since then, the case had been making its way through the court system, with both sides preparing to go to trial. An omnibus hearing in August resulted in orders by Sixth District Carlton County Judge Rebekka Stumme to share documentation and recordings of any interviews with the alleged victim with Connor’s attorneys, David Keegan and Mikkel Long, although not with Connor himself. A motion to suppress a statement Connor gave to law enforcement on Jan. 2, 2023, was denied. A motion to suppress any statements he gave to law enforcement on April 6 — after he had obtained legal representation but without his attorneys present — was granted.
Pretrial hearings were set for October, reset for December, then Jan. 9.
On Jan. 5, in response to a motion to dismiss for lack of probable cause “and as a sanction for violating discovery rules,” Judge Stumme canceled the Jan. 9 hearing and required the county attorney’s office to respond to the motion to dismiss in writing by 4 p.m. Jan. 12.
Ketola filed the motion to dismiss on Jan. 9.