More details emerge in kidnapping case against Minnesota man
STILLWATER, Minn. -- New details have emerged in the case against a Landfall man accused of kidnapping a New York girl, but prosecutors have not added any charges and the investigation is continuing.
A search warrant affidavit filed in Washington County District Court on May 14 offers additional information from investigators’ interviews with Michael Angelo Goerlich, 53, and the 14-year-old Rochester, N.Y., girl who was found in his mobile home this month.
The girl told police Goerlich forced her to come to Minnesota, where he sexually assaulted her, the affidavit said.
But Goerlich has not been charged with criminal sexual conduct, nor is it clear that he will be.
Assistant County Attorney Fred Fink, who heads the criminal division of the county attorney’s office, would only say the investigation is continuing.
The county attorney’s office charged Goerlich on May 8 with two counts of kidnapping and one count of false imprisonment.
Goerlich reportedly met the 14-year-old girl on a telephone chat line about a year ago, according to the criminal complaint.
Goerlich admitted to driving to Rochester, N.Y., and bringing the girl back to Minnesota, the affidavit said.
But there are conflicting accounts as to whether the girl came willingly or was forced.
According to the criminal complaint, the two made plans in advance for Goerlich to drive to New York and pick her up.
But according to the search warrant affidavit filed by Washington County sheriff’s investigators, the girl told police Goerlich showed up unannounced and forced her into his truck as she was walking to school.
She said she had never seen Goerlich’s picture, so she didn’t immediately realize that the man who picked her up was the “Mike” she’d been talking to on the phone over the past year, the affidavit said.
She said the unknown man asked her where the nearest Walmart was, the affidavit said.
“(The girl) said she answered his question and walked away, but the male followed her,” the affidavit said. “He eventually gets out of his vehicle, which (the girl) described as a pickup truck, hit her in the face, threatened her with a knife, and forced (the girl) into the vehicle.”
She told police Goerlich drove her to her house so she could get some things before they left town, the affidavit said.
The girl told police that Goerlich broke her cellphone while they were en route to Minnesota and that when they arrived at his home in Landfall he forced her to participate in sex acts, the affidavit said.
Goerlich denied that he’d had sex with her. He said the girl told him she was abused by her family, the affidavit said.
The girl had been reported missing in New York and was discovered May 6 after she called Rochester police and gave them Goerlich’s address. Washington County officials placed her in protective custody while arrangements were made to reunite her with family.
One of the kidnapping charges against Goerlich stems from his alleged intent to commit criminal sexual conduct and the other from deprivation of parental rights.
His next court hearing is scheduled for June 5.
On Wednesday he’s scheduled to appear in court for an eviction hearing because the Landfall Housing and Redevelopment Authority is seeking to kick him and his roommate out of their mobile home. The eviction claim accuses Goerlich of violating the crime-free requirements of his lease and of owing two months’ rent.
A call to the attorney handling the eviction case was not immediately returned. The HRA board chair, who is also Landfall’s mayor, was not available to speak to a reporter Friday afternoon.
Goerlich remained in custody at the Washington County Jail. His bail was set at $1 million.
Other media have identified the girl, but the Pioneer Press does not generally identify alleged victims of sexual assault.
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.