Man charged with sexually assaulting multiple girls at Brainerd business

William Christopher Kounkel faces multiple charges after he allegedly exposed himself to a 16-year-old girl and grabbed a 12-year-old girl March 25 in Crow Wing County.

Crow Wing County Jail
The Crow Wing County Jail is located at 313 Laurel St., Brainerd.
Chelsey Perkins / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — A 35-year-old Brainerd man is in custody after exposing himself to a 16-year-old girl and grabbing a 12-year-old girl at a business in Brainerd.

William Christopher Kounkel faces charges of felony second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person under the age of 14 with the perpetrator at least 36 months older, two charges of felony harassment with sexual or aggressive intent with a victim under the age of 18, and a gross misdemeanor criminal sexual conduct with a person under the age of 16.

William Christopher Kounkel
William Christopher Kounkel
Contributed / Crow Wing CountY Jail

According to court documents, on Saturday, March 25, law enforcement responded to a report at 8:56 p.m. of a male exposing himself to two juvenile girls at a Brainerd business before running from the establishment.

A witness in the store told police he chased the suspect after the suspect heard police were being called. The witness described the man as wearing a T-shirt, gray shorts and “was very obviously not wearing underwear.” A store employee indicated the suspect is a regular at the store and is known as "Bill."

Arms shaking, crying and struggling to speak, the 16-year-old girl told law enforcement she was in the candy aisle with her 10-year-old sister when she noticed Kounkel close by. She said she could see Kounkel grabbing himself on the outside of his shorts while he was watching and following her.


The 16-year-old then walked her sister away from that aisle to the toy aisle, trying to get away from Kounkel. Kounkel followed her to the toy aisle and she could see his “you know what.” She then saw that Kounkel was touching himself inappropriately while he was looking directly at her. She then quickly walked her sister away from the aisle to the front of the store where she told her grandmother and store employees about the incident.

Kounkel came to the front of the store and stated, “I didn’t do anything.”

The 16-year-old girl said she was so upset and crying because the incident was “triggering” and “gross.” She said the 10-year-old girl was with her when the incident happened but the 10-year-old girl said she did not see anything.

Law enforcement located Kounkel at his nearby residence. He had changed clothing and taken a shower after he ran home from the store. Kounkel was arrested and taken to the Crow Wing County Jail.

During an interview with law enforcement while in jail, Kounkel admitted he was at the store close to the time of the incident and he saw females matching the victims’ descriptions, along with seeing someone who looked like the victims’ grandmother.

Kounkel said he then ran home from the store after a man chased him out and claimed he ran away because he was smoking marijuana. He denied any wrongdoing. There is no video imagery depicting Kounkel smoking anything while at the store.

On March 26, a 12-year-old girl and her mother came into the police department to report that while shopping at the same store as the 16-year-old girl on March 25, a man had grabbed her inappropriately.

Her mother provided an in-custody photo of Kounkel, who she identified as the person responsible for the sexual assault.


The 12-year-old said Kounkel grabbed her around her waist area on the outside of her pants while she was in the store.

When law enforcement watched security footage from the store, it appeared to show Kounkel following the 12-year-old girl down an aisle as her mother was in another aisle. Kounkel can be seen walking down the aisle and when he passed the 12-year-old, the video shows he appeared to slow his walk, lean backward and look in the direction of her as he passed by. He then walked to the aisle end cap, where he appeared to be looking past her toward her mother's location. Kounkel then took a slow step in her direction, moved an item to his left hand and can be seen grabbing her.

The girl then quickly moved away from Kounkel and he can be seen moving toward the front of the store to pay for his merchandise. As he is paying, the 16-year-old and 10-year-old girl can be seen entering the store and the video shows Kounkel staring at them as they enter the store.

In the video, Kounkel is seen exiting the store and waiting in the vestibule area while grabbing at his groin area, outside of his shorts. He remained there as the 12-year-old girl and her mother exited the store. The 12-year-old girl can be seen grabbing her mother's arm as they leave the store. Kounkel can then be seen reentering the store to pursue the 16-year-old and 10-year-old girls.

In 2020, Kounkel was convicted of burglary in connection to thefts at the Crosby Library in 2018. He was also convicted in 2010 of contributing to the delinquency of multiple minors and operating a motor vehicle without a driver's license. Court records also make reference to Kounkel being a subject of the Minnesota Predatory Offender Statutes since 2003 and being required to maintain that status until March 5, 2013. At the time of the conviction in 2003, Kounkel would have been a minor, around 15 years old.

Kounkel remains in Crow Wing County Jail as of Tuesday, April 4. He made his initial appearance in Crow Wing County District Court Tuesday and is scheduled to be back in court May 4.

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

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