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Brainerd man pleads guilty in attack on BHS staffer: McCormack admits assault, says he did it for no reason

Brainerd police in front of the Brainerd High School. File Photo1 / 2
Jared Allen-Tristen McCormack2 / 2

Twenty-year-old Jared Allen-Tristen McCormack confessed in a Brainerd courtroom Monday, May 20, to physically assaulting a woman three months earlier in the girls locker room at Brainerd High School.

The Brainerd man also admitted to having his hands over the victim's mouth and neck, trying to get her to pass out so she wouldn't be able to recognize him.

McCormack made the statements during a hearing at which he entered a guilty plea to the crime. He sat with Public Defender Charles J. Frey, wearing a Crow Wing County Jail-issued navy blue jumpsuit and with his hands shackled at his waist in front of Judge David Ten Eyck in Crow Wing County District Court in Brainerd.

McCormack, a registered sex offender, was arrested Feb. 11 following the attack of a 36-year-old BHS staff member. He was charged with three felonies of first-degree burglary-assault, attempted kidnapping and attempted fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct through using force. The complaint was amended March 21 to add a gross misdemeanor charge of fifth-degree assault occurring within three years of a previous conviction.

McCormack pleaded guilty to one of four charges filed against him—first-degree burglary-assault. If Ten Eyck accepts McCormack's plea, the other charges will be dismissed at McCormack's sentencing at 1:30 p.m. July 25.

In court, Frey went over McCormack's rights before they entered the plea petition with the judge.

In response to Frey's question of whether he was under any influence of drugs, alcohol or prescription drugs, McCormack answered, "No, sir."

Frey also asked McCormack a series of questions to make sure he understood his rights—that he was waiving all his rights of probable cause and his pretrial rights, including the right to have a jury of his peers hear his case and decide whether he was guilty or not guilty. McCormack said he understood.

Frey also asked McCormack if any friends, family or anyone had promised or threatened him to enter his plea of guilty. "No, sir," McCormack replied.

Crow Wing County Assistant Attorney Candace Prigge, who is prosecuting the case, asked McCormack if he was in BHS the morning of Feb. 11, to which he replied he was. She then asked McCormack if he had permission to be in the high school and he said he did not. He also answered he knew was not allowed to be in the high school as he is a registered sex offender.

When Prigge asked what he was doing in the girls locker room, he said, "I physically assaulted a female." When asked what his reason was for the assault, he said, "There wasn't any."

McCormack then agreed with the prosecutor he was trying to get the woman to pass out so she wouldn't recognize him.

According to the criminal complaint, the victim, a woman who works at the high school, told police she arrived at BHS at 4:40 a.m. Feb. 11 to work out with school equipment. About 6:20 a.m., after she was done working out, McCormack came up behind her in the locker room and placed his arm around her neck and mouth. He said nothing as the victim struggled to get away from him, pulling her backwards or trying to pull her down, the complaint stated. At one point, the suspect placed both his hands on her mouth.

Eventually, he ran out of the locker room, at which time she ran out of an exit door on the opposite side into the gymnasium to ask coaches and basketball players to call the police.

Police located McCormack afterward and he denied being at the school. He told police he knew he couldn't be there because he is a sex offender and was told he could not be on school property.

Security video from the school shows McCormack entering the building. He is seen in various locations, then entering the girls locker room about 5:25 a.m., the complaint stated. The woman is seen entering the locker room at 6:20 a.m., and at 6:43 a.m. exits in a frantic and hurried manner.

In the proposed plea agreement, Frey suggested a 68-month prison sentence and asked it be a dispositional departure. This means McCormack would not serve any prison time, but would be placed on probation. If McCormack were to violate any conditions of his release, his original sentence could be executed.

According to the Keller Law Offices in Minneapolis website on sentencing guidelines in Minnesota, defense attorneys may ask the judge to consider a dispositional departure due to the defendant's age, prior criminal record, remorse and cooperation.

The proposed plea agreement included action on other cases for which McCormack faces criminal charges.

On Feb. 5, McCormack was charged with a gross misdemeanor traffic violation of having an uninsured vehicle, along with two misdemeanor traffic violations in Crow Wing County District Court. In this case, McCormack pleaded guilty to the first count of having an uninsured vehicle, with the understanding the misdemeanors would be dismissed. Ten Eyck accepted the plea deal in that case and sentenced McCormack to serve 90 days in jail and pay a $135 fine.

In a third case, McCormack was charged with two gross misdemeanors of fifth-degree assault from an incident this past November in Brainerd. Frey is asking Ten Eyck for these two charges to be dismissed as part of the plea agreement petition in the BHS attack case.

Jennifer Kraus

A big part of my day is chasing down tips on a variety of breaking news stories, relating to vehicle crashes, fires, police incidents and court cases. I’m always thankful when people call in tips to alert me on an incident so I can follow up and see if the tip is actually something that occurred or is a rumor. It’s a big scope to keep track of as we not only cover Brainerd and Crow Wing County incidents, but we also cover the surrounding counties and cities. I also gather information on the entertainment scene, so if you are hosting a band or choir concert, an art exhibit, a play or other theater production -- I want to hear about it. If you know of a story on any of these beats, give me a shout! To help support local journalism, click here to sign up to receive a Dispatch digital subscription to our e-edition or to receive the printed paper at your door, or to get both.

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