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Brainerd man pleads guilty to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl

On Wednesday, Aug. 3, in Crow Wing County court, the 27-year-old man pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in 2020 in Brainerd.

Crow Wing County Judicial Center, Brainerd
Crow Wing County Judicial Center, Brainerd.
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BRAINERD — A Brainerd man accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in 2020 in Brainerd pleaded guilty to the charge Wednesday, Aug. 3, in a pretrial hearing.

Billie Ray Clark, 27, who faced three counts of felony criminal sexual assault, pleaded guilty to one charge and the other two charges were dropped.

Appearing before Judge Patricia Aanes in Crow Wing County District Court, Clark, along with his public defender Jesse Oelfk, informed Aanes of Clark’s decision to plead guilty to count three, fourth degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim between the ages of 13 and 15 years old.

The charges of fourth degree criminal sexual conduct by force or coercion and fourth degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim who is mentally impaired or helpless were dismisssed.

During the brief hearing, Aanes, Oelfk and Assistant Crow Wing County Attorney Janine Lepage asked Clark if he understood he was pleading guilty and the rights he was giving up. Clark said he understood.

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As part of the plea, Clark is required to submit to a presentence investigation, a psychosexual evaluation and remain law-abiding.

Upon release, Clark was also required to check in with Crow Wing County Probation officers.

Clark is scheduled to be sentenced 11:30 a.m. Oct. 12 in Crow Wing County Court.

Criminal complaint

Clark failed to appear in court in January of 2021 and September of 2021 and a warrant was issued for his arrest Sept. 27, 2021. Clark was arrested in April and has been in the Crow Wing County Jail since.

According to the criminal complaint, Clark was homeless in August 2020 and living in a van parked on D Street in Brainerd. During that time, a runaway girl was reported to have spent a night in the van with Clark.

The van was parked outside of the home of a woman known to Clark and the morning after the alleged attack, the girl went into the house and confided in the woman about the sexual assault by Clark during the night. The woman reported the attack to law enforcement on Aug. 26, 2020.

The complaint stated the girl told the woman Clark tried to kiss her and cuddle with her and she punched him.

On Sept. 1, 2020, investigators received a report from the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office providing additional details about a solicitation of a minor case in which Clark was a suspect.

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The report from Otter Tail County also noted two other criminal sexual conduct incidents involving Clark in Brainerd, including the one at issue in this case.

According to Otter Tail County, Clark admitted to a woman that he tried to rape the girl in Brainerd and she was 14 years old at the time. Clark admitted to the woman he reached up the girl’s shirt, touched her breasts, and kissed her on her neck and breast area. Clark told her the girl fought him off and told him no several times.

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On Sept. 9, 2020, investigators interviewed the girl and asked if she knew a man named Billie. According to the complaint, the girl became suddenly emotional, stating, “He tried to rape me and told everyone that he tried to rape me in the back of the van when I ran away.”

The girl then said she planned to stay at the D Street residence for one night and Clark insisted on her staying in the van overnight. Clark lured her into the van by telling her she could be alone in the van, the girl reported, but she said it was cold so she allowed Clark to sleep in the back of the van where she was. She told Clark he had to keep his distance from her but after dark she said.she felt like she was raped by Clark. She estimated the assault went on for approximately an hour.

The girl said she never fell asleep that night after the assault, and when it became daylight, she left the van and went into the house crying.

On Sept. 11, 2020, investigators received information that Clark was believed to be staying at a residence on Laurel Street in Brainerd. Officers found Clark at the residence and he agreed to go to the police department to provide a formal statement.

According to police, Clark admitted knowing the girl and stated he now knows she was 14 years old, but he did not know how old she was at the time. Originally saying he did not do anything with her, Clark eventually admitted to the acts of criminal sexual conduct against the girl, police said.

Clark stated he was drinking alcohol and the girl was as well. He admitted knowing she was drunk because her speech was slurred and he had to help her get into the van due to her intoxication. Clark allegedly denied any further sexual contact with her but said he should have asked how old she was, adding he felt bad about his actions.

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The charge of fourth degree criminal sexual conduct charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years and a penalty of $20,000.

TIM SPEIER, staff writer, can be reached on Twitter @timmy2thyme , call 218-855-5859 or email tim.speier@brainerddispatch.com .

Tim Speier joined the Brainerd Dispatch in October 2021, covering Public Safety.
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