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Man pleads not guilty in juvenile sexual assault case after warrant arrest

In the hearing, 27-year-old Billie Ray Clark plead not guilty to the three counts of felony criminal sexual assault and demanded a speedy trial.

Crow Wing County Judicial Center
Crow Wing County Judicial Center in Brainerd, MN.

BRAINERD — A man accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in 2020 in Brainerd pleaded not guilty to the charges via Zoom Thursday, June 30, in a pretrial plea hearing.

Billie Ray Clark, 27, faces three counts of felony criminal sexual assault. During the brief hearing, Public Defender Jesse Oelfke also demanded a speedy trial on Clark’s behalf.

After Clark failed to appear in court in January and September 2021, 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.

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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. 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.

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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. She then said Clark told her the girl fought him off and told him no several times.

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.

The girl said when she was half asleep after dark, Clark started to "do everything to me" and she felt like she was raped by Clark. After Clark appeared to be satisfied, the girl said he got off of her and laid down, going to sleep. Estimating the assault went on for approximately an hour, she told Clark to stop during the assault and Clark told her to "shut up."

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.

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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.

Clark faces three felony charges for fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, with one count for use of force or coercion, one count of knowing or having reason to know the victim was impaired or helpless, and one count of the victim being between the ages of 13 and 15 years old while he was more than 48 months older. All three charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years and a penalty of $20,000.

Clark is scheduled to be in court on July 5 and has a jury trial scheduled for Aug. 23, 2022.

In the hearing

Public Defender Oelfke requested Crow Wing County Judge Patricia Aanes address conditions of release before moving forward during the Thursday hearing. Aanes said Clark would be allowed to be released from the Crow Wing County Jail if he was able to secure funds to pay for an electronic home monitoring device.

Oelfke said his client needed at least a week to secure the funds as he had no identification, no social security card and no credit card but had the money in a social security account. Aanes said the electronic home monitoring system was a condition of release and she would not grant Clark’s release without the monitor in place.

Recognizing Clark needed the ability to obtain identification to secure the funds, Aanes agreed to authorize a furlough from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday for him to arrange a way to secure the needed funds. Aanes said if Clark did not have a home monitoring device on by 4:30 p.m., he would be required to report back to the Crow Wing County Jail or face additional charges.

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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