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Alleged victim testifies in Sanborn sex trial

Jared Sanborn

Testimony began Wednesday in the Becker County jury trial of a former Lake Park-Audubon High School teacher who is accused of having a sexual relationship with a female juvenile during the spring of 2005, when she was under 16 years of age. Among those to take the stand: the alleged victim.

Jared Lee Sanborn, 26, of P.O. Box 122, Lake Park, is facing a felony count of third degree criminal sexual conduct. He allegedly had sexual intercourse with the girl 4-6 times over the course of a four-month period -- when she was 15 and he was 21-22.

First to take the stand for the prosecution was the alleged victim herself. Now 19, the girl appeared composed during her testimony, though soft-spoken and obviously nervous.

She told a tale of how her relationship with Sanborn, whom she had seen as "a brother, a father figure, someone I looked up to," had progressed into a sexual liaison that lasted approximately four months.

The girl, who was the babysitter for the children of two families that were related to Sanborn, was considered a part of the family and often invited to birthday parties and family gatherings, which is where she got to know him.

One day, when she was at Sanborn's house watching a movie with him, he allegedly initiated a kiss, saying "he had meant to do that for a long time," the girl testified.

Though she was "surprised," the girl said she really didn't feel anything beyond that. She had never wanted Sanborn as a boyfriend, she added: she would have preferred that their relationship stay platonic.

"Did you return the kiss?" asked defense attorney Kenneth Kohler during cross examination.

"Yes," the girl admitted. But when pressed for details of what happened after the kiss, she couldn't remember.

A couple of weeks later, she had sex with Sanborn for the first time -- again, at Sanborn's house.

"I was numb -- I made myself feel numb," she said of her reaction. "I didn't know what would happen if we talked about it... if I would lose somebody I trusted and looked up to -- someone I could talk to."

The girl's family was going through some difficult times four years ago, she testified. She often phoned Sanborn or went to his house, seeking someone who would listen to her -- in fact, just the fact that he listened was a tremendous comfort to her, she testified.

After that first incident, the victim testified that they had intercourse "a few more times," though she couldn't recall exactly how many.

What she did recall were two specific instances -- once, in March of 2005, when she had been spending the evening with a friend at Islands, a nightclub in Detroit Lakes where teenagers could socialize. Because she had had an argument with her father before she left for the evening, she did not want to return home, so she called Sanborn to talk.

He invited her to come over to his house, so she had her friend drop her off there, she said. They ended up having sex that night, before he took her home in the early morning.

She also recalled a similar incident in mid-May of 2005, after a family member's suicide, in which she had once again gone to Sanborn seeking comfort. Though she was "fairly positive" they had intercourse that time as well, she had difficulty recalling any details of the incident.

The victim testified that she believed they had intercourse at least a couple more times, but she's not sure exactly how many times because they all happened at his house and had begun to blur together in her memory.

She said that aside from the time her friend dropped her off at Sanborn's house, and the times when he picked her up while her parents were at home, she doesn't think there was anyone who witnessed them spending time together. Also testifying Wednesday were Kelly Isaacson, the LPA teacher to whom the victim first confessed her relationship with Sanborn, in 2007; Kathy Nguyen, the Becker County Sheriff's Department officer who was assigned as lead investigator in the Sanborn case; and Joshua Heggem, the attorney hired by the LPA District to investigate the alleged relationship after it was first reported to Isaacson.

The victim's mother is expected to be among the witnesses to take the stand on Thursday. The trial resumes at 9 a.m.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454