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Oklee man set to be sentenced on day care sex abuse charge

GRAND FORKS -- A registered predatory offender charged with having sexual contact with a 4-year-old girl in his mother's home-based day care in Oklee is set to be sentenced March 1.

Lonnie Cote's jury trial on three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct started Monday in state District Court in Red Lake Falls, Minn., but Tuesday, before the trial ended, he accepted a plea agreement, entering an Alford plea to one count.

In an Alford plea, a defendant acknowledges there may be enough evidence for a conviction but does not admit to the charge.

A criminal complaint filed in December 2008 alleges the sexual contact happened sometime between fall 2007 and April 2008. Cote's attorney, Kevin Duffy, has said his client denies ever going to his mother's house during the day care's business hours, except one time to fix the furnace in an emergency.

Red Lake County Social Services revoked Cote's mother's day care license in June 2008 because Cote had been visiting the day care while children were there, the complaint says.

Cote, 54, Oklee, was convicted of three sex crimes in 2000 in Norman County, Minn.