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Bemidji man pleads guilty to sex charge

BEMIDJI - Karl John Sauer, a Bemidji man who pleaded guilty Tuesday to molesting a 6-year-old in the summer of 2010, faces up to nine years in prison.

He originally faced a maximum of 30 years but struck a plea agreement reducing the severity of the charge. He pleaded to second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Sauer, 24, will face a maximum of 108 months in prison when sentenced April 29. He must serve at least 72 months of that time in jail, with 36 months of supervised release and 10 years probation.

Also part of the plea agreement is the dismissal of charges in Hubbard County that stemmed from Sauer's possession of what may have been child pornography. Sauer was originally charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Earlier this week, Sauer appeared in Beltrami District Judge Paul Benshoof's courtroom.

Sauer, wearing glasses and with a neatly trimmed goatee, responded in one-word replies to Chief Assistant County Attorney Annie Claesson-Huseby during her questioning.

In his replies, Sauer said he received oral sex from the 6-year-old victim multiple times while he was in a caretaker role at the victim's home.

Following the discovery of abuse, in June, 2010, Sauer's twin daughters were put into protective custody, according to the criminal complaint filed by the Beltrami County Attorney's Office.

Also in the complaint were graphic details that were discovered in interviews with the victim by staff at the Family Advocacy Center. The complaint read, in part that "during her relationship with Sauer, the victim revealed a number of disgusting sexual paraphilias" and that Sauer viewed pornography on "multiple occasions" while engaging in sexual conduct with the victim.

A subject of some debate was whether Sauer was engaged in sexual conduct with the victim over an "extended period of time," as required by the law.

After a short discussion with his attorney, Randy Durkin, of Giancola-Durkin P.A. in Anoka, Sauer testified the acts occurred during a three-month span.

Following the admission, Durkin acknowledged there had been "issues" with Sauer while in Beltrami County Jail, and that the man had been placed in solitary confinement for his protection.