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Lutgen pleads to sex charge

Jay Allen Lutgen, 20, of Bemidji, has pleaded guilty via an Alford Plea to third-degree criminal sexual conduct by force or coercion, a serious felony.

The charge was amended from first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a victim under the age of 13, also a serious felony.

Under the Alford Plea, Lutgen did not admit to committing the crime, but believes there is sufficient evidence that he could be convicted.

He is expected to be sentenced July 14.

Lutgen was accused of sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl on several occasions over several months.

According to the criminal complaint, deputies with the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office were called to North Country Regional Hospital Aug. 21 to investigate a possible sexual assault of a child.

On Aug. 23, investigators with the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office and Child Protection Human Services observed a forensic interview during which the child said Lutgen had sexually assaulted her on several occasions while they were alone.

Lutgen was arrested Aug. 23.