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Trial set in woman's failure to appear case

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - A judge has set a trial for the Frazee, Minn., grandmother who allegedly hid from authorities last year rather than face testifying against her husband in a criminal sexual assault trial.

District Judge Lisa Borgen set the trial for Sept. 22 in Becker County District Court for Virginia Juanita Briard, 63, of 38501 County Road 56, Frazee.

Briard is accused of going on the run to avoid testifying, and was charged with one count for each day in December she failed to appear at the criminal sexual conduct trial of her husband, Robert Briard.

Last week, after several weeks of deliberation, Borgen denied three motions for dismissal filed by Briard's attorneys, Earl Gray and Kent Marshall.

Briard's next court appearance, a pre-trial hearing, is set for Aug. 27.

Robert Briard was acquitted of the criminal sexual assault charges by a jury in December and was recently acquitted of a separate criminal sexual conduct charge by a jury.

Virginia Briard, his wife, faces six felony counts of contempt of court on claims she disobeyed a subpoena to testify at her husband's December trial.

Prior to the trial, law enforcement investigators said that in an interview Briard said her husband "made certain admissions to her" about the allegations for which he was later acquitted. County officials wanted her to speak during the trial about those statements.

Robert Briard did challenge the admissibility of his wife's testimony, but the court ruled it was not privileged and she could be compelled to testify. However, despite several attempts to serve a subpoena on her, directing her to appear at the trial, Virginia Briard did not show up and could not be found during her husband's trial.

Virginia Briard did not reappear in public until she turned herself in Dec. 30. She is free on $200,000 bond set by District Judge Joe Evans, with conditions that include she surrender her passport to authorities, not leave the state and notify the court of any change of address within 48 hours.