Newport motel owner charged with kidnapping as sexual assault investigation continues
The owner of the Sure Lock Motel in Newport is charged with kidnapping following a six hour standoff Sunday at the Hastings Avenue motel, and police still are investigating a related allegation of sexual conduct involving an underage girl.
Roger A. Berres, 48, a convicted sex offender, was arraigned Tuesday in Washington County District Court on a felony kidnapping charge and stands accused of allegedly locking himself inside an apartment at the motel with the underage girl after he had ejected the girl's mother from the residence.
The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $35,000 fine.
Berres was booked into Washington County Jail on suspicion of a number of charges: second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a female under the age of 13; kidnapping; disturbing the peace, domestic assault and obstructing the legal process.
The criminal complaint filed Tuesday only includes the kidnapping charge. County Attorney Pete Orput said his office did not believe there was enough information to bring additional charges against Berres and that continued investigation was needed.
"We charged him with what we believed we could prove at trial for now," Orput said.
Orput said at the time of Berres' arrest police did not have enough evidence to support further criminal charges.
"The reports are definitely incomplete. There's much more to be done," Orput said of the investigation, later adding: "Some people here were frustrated with how this played out."
According to the criminal complaint:
The girl's mother heard her child crying at around 2 a.m. Sunday when she found Berres, shirtless and with his blue jeans unzipped, straddling the young girl in the woman's living room.
Berres allegedly elbowed the mother in the face when she grabbed at him. He swore at her and said: "Shut your mouth or you won't have your baby anymore." He took the phone away from her and shoved her out a back door of the residence.
Berres then locked himself in the residence with the child for roughly 8 hours before releasing the girl to her mother at 10 a.m, according to the complaint.
Newport police arrived at the residence shortly after 5 p.m. following a call from the mother. Police said they believed Berres may have had a gun. They requested assistance from the Washington County Special Response Team.
Berres was uncooperative in officers' initial attempt to make contact with him, police said. They eventually made phone contact with him, and he was arrested at 11:44 p.m. and booked into jail.
Police have not said whether Berres was armed during the standoff, and further details about the incident were not immediately available pending the ongoing investigation.
The criminal complaint noted that the alleged victim, whose age has not been released, said Berres had touched her sexually and kissed her.
Orput said those allegations still are being investigated but were included in the complaint for the kidnapping charge because media had already reported that Berres was booked into jail on suspicion of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.
"We're not about to charge somebody unless we have the proof in hand," Orput said.
The ongoing criminal investigation may be completed this week, the county attorney said.
Berres has a lengthy criminal record in the state of Minnesota that includes a 2000 felony criminal sexual conduct conviction that involved a minor. Most recently, he was convicted last year of fifth-degree misdemeanor assault.