LONG PRAIRIE, Minn. - One of the teens involved in a sexually-charged hazing incident at Browerville High School waived his right to trial Friday and pleaded guilty by submitting an Alford plea.
Under the agreement, 18-year-old Connor Burns maintains his innocence but admits that enough evidence exists that he could be found guilty if a trial occurred. Rather that take that risk, Burns pleaded guilty to a charge of fourth degree criminal sexual conduct.
As part of the Alford agreement the judge does not actually accept the guilty plea, and no charges go on Burns' record. Prosecutors also drop all additional charges in the case.
Burns was charged with six separate criminal counts that involved helping co-defendant Seth Kellen sexually assault a teammate, and taking part in the assault himself.
Kellen, also 18, is accused of carrying out a number of criminal acts including sexual penetration, groping, lewd conduct and exposure. Todd County Prosecutors have charged him with 20 separate criminal counts.
If Burns does not violate conditions of his probation his criminal record will remain unblemished.
"The agreement is good for several reasons. One, his record remains clean, he has no conviction whatsoever," said Burns' attorney Ryan Garry.
"Two, pursuant to the Alford Plea he gets to tell the world I'm 100 percent innocent, and three he serves absolutely no jail time. He does not have to register as a predatory offender and he does not have to complete sex offender treatment and when you're looking at a case where the presumptive commit to prison is 48 months in prison that's a helluva deal."
A third defendant, a juvenile, faces lesser charges in the scandal.
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