A 57-year-old Brainerd man accused of sexually assaulting a 11-year-old girl has been charged for criminal sexual conduct.

James Earl Chaires made his first appearance Tuesday, Feb. 16, in Crow Wing County District Court, where he faces one count of felony first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a juvenile girl.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Chaires, Brainerd police were called at 11:39 p.m. Feb. 11 to conduct a welfare check at a residence after a third-party reported a juvenile girl being touched by a man.

Police learned the 11-year-old victim contacted her friend via Snapchat, stating she was being touched in a sexual way by Chaires, the complaint stated. The friend told her sister, who then called the police.

James Earl Chaires
James Earl Chaires

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Officers located the victim at Chaires’ residence and spoke with her in the entryway, while officers spoke with Chaires inside the residence.

The victim told the officer she was spending the night at Chaires’ house because she was attending a birthday there. The victim had known Chaires her whole life because he is friends with her father.

The victim was sleeping in Chaires' bedroom while Chaires was supposed to be sleeping on the couch. Chaires came into the bed and sexually assaulted the underage girl. The girl pushed Chaires away from her and he told her not to tell anyone because he was scared that he would lose her father as a friend and that his daughter would be taken away from him. Chaires told the victim he would give her $20 if she did not tell anyone.

The victim appeared to be embarrassed and sad as she described what had been done to her, the court document stated.

The child was taken to the emergency room to be seen by a physician. She repeated the same information to medical staff as she had reported to the officer.

Chaires told officers the girl had wanted to go to another friend’s house and he told her that she could not go anywhere because it was too late. He said the girl became upset with him and made up the assault story, the complaint stated. The girl told police she wanted to go to another friend’s house after Chaires assaulted her because she was afraid, but Chaires refused because it would look suspicious.

Officers obtained a search warrant for purposes of obtaining a DNA sample from Chaires, along with swabs of his hands. After Chaires was arrested, he provided a statement where he again denied the allegations. Chaires stated the only reason the victim’s DNA would be on his hands was because she had given him a high-five.

The judge set bond at $75,000 with conditions or $150,000 without conditions. Chaires was still in Crow Wing County Jail as of Thursday. His next court appearance is scheduled Feb. 24.