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Grey Cloud man charged with burglary, sexual contact

A Grey Cloud Island Township man allegedly broke into a nearby home and forced himself sexually onto a sleeping teen girl.

Prosecutors charged Joseph M. Petersen, 18, with second-degree criminal sexual conduct and first-degree burglary, both felonies, in connection with the alleged incident last month. He was arrested and jailed before being released on $10,000 bail with conditions. Petersen also faces a felony-level charge of fleeing a police officer in the case. His next court appearance is Sept. 10.

According to the criminal complaint filed in Washington County District Court:

A 16-year-old girl told police she was awakened about 4 a.m. July 29 by a man who had entered her room and then threatened to hurt her with a knife if she screamed. When the man forced the girl to touch him sexually, she sat up in bed and screamed. He immediately ran out of the room, and the girl heard an engine start outside the house. She said it sounded like a four-wheeler.

The girl’s mother rushed into her room to check on her. Her mother then found the patio door ajar and front door wide open, a rug pushed into the home and that she was missing a pack of Camel cigarettes.

As a St. Paul Park police officer was responding to the girl’s home, he saw a man riding an all-terrain vehicle the opposite direction at a high rate of speed. The officer recognized the operator as Petersen, turned his squad around and started following the ATV.

The officer lost sight of the ATV, but found fresh tire tracks leading into woods near Petersen’s home. Police met with Petersen’s father, who said one of his ATVs was missing. As they were talking, Petersen emerged from the woods sweaty, out of breath and wearing only his underwear, the complaint states. He initially said he fled from the pursuing police car because he was driving the ATV illegally and that he took his clothes off to try to deceive police into believing he had been in his home.

Petersen said he had been at a friend’s house, but that friend’s parents told police Petersen was not at their home that night.

While investigating, police found a Camel cigarette pack and knife near the ATV tire tracks outside Petersen’s home. An officer also found a cotton T-shirt Petersen was wearing when police saw him riding the ATV. The alleged victim told police the man who entered her room was wearing a cotton T-shirt.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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