DULUTH, Minn. — The St. Louis County Attorney's Office this week was awaiting the investigative report from the Proctor Police Department regarding the "serious misconduct" by Proctor High School students.
Proctor City Administrator Jess Rich said in an email to media outlets that "media queries, rumors, speculation, social media posts and unfounded reports have severely hindered and delayed this investigation and have done nothing for the well-being and privacy of those involved."
Assistant County Attorney Ben Stromberg said that once they receive the investigative file and a request for specific charges in the case, he anticipates another public announcement.
As for whether the details of the case will be made public, Stromberg said that depends. Citing Minnesota Statutes 260B.163, Subdivision 1(c), Stromberg said that "court records regarding individuals who are charged with a felony-level offense who were at least 16 years old as of the time of the offense are public unless otherwise ordered by the court. All other juvenile court records are not accessible to the public."
After the file and requested charges are handed over to the county attorney's office, they will decide whether there is sufficient evidence to file a juvenile delinquency petition or citation, depending on the level of the offense, Stromberg said.
"The county attorney’s office may decide to proceed with the charges requested by law enforcement, to charge a higher or lower level of offense, or that there is not sufficient evidence to file charges at all," Stromberg said. "The county attorney’s office may also refer the matter back to law enforcement for further investigation."
According to Stromberg, the length of time it takes to make a decision on charges can vary from a few hours to several months, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Football activities for Proctor players in grades 9-12 were canceled in September.
Proctor Police Chief Kent Gaidis said last week the incident was reported to the police department Sept. 16 at 2:05 p.m. In an interview with Fox 21, former head coach Derek Parendo claimed the incident happened while he was watching his daughter play in a soccer game in Cloquet. The Proctor soccer team's only game in Cloquet this season was Sept. 8.
THE STORY SO FAR:
- Proctor police finish investigation into football team 'misconduct'
- Ex-Proctor football coach says he’s a 'scapegoat' as investigation continues
- Proctor football coach resigns ‘all positions’ with district, superintendent says
- As misconduct investigation continues, homecoming is a chance for normalcy in Proctor, Minnesota
- Minnesota town reels as investigation cancels Proctor High School’s football season
Parendo is on a paid personal leave of absence until the end of the 2021-22 school year, when his resignation will take effect.
Proctor Public Schools Superintendent John Engelking confirmed the investigation in an email to news outlets Sept. 22 and said the district is cooperating with police.
A week after the news emerged that the team was under investigation, the school district announced the rest of the program's 2021 games are canceled. In an email to parents sent Sept. 29, the district said the “alleged serious misconduct” led to the decision to end the season.
“In order to enable us to do our due diligence and to give us the opportunity to properly investigate the allegations, we have made the decision to end our 9-12 (sic) grade football team activities for the season,” the email said. “Please know that this decision was not made hastily, and it was made with consultation with the Proctor Police Department, the Minnesota State High School League, the Proctor Public Schools Crisis Team and legal counsel.”
In the email, the district promised repercussions against any “substantiated” allegations.
“We will take action against substantiated misconduct and we will address any and all problems in the football program,” the email said. “We are absolutely confident that when the program resumes next season, we will be RailStrong by representing our families, school, and community in a positive way both on and off the field and by doing the right thing at all times.”