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Akeley settles with woman who sought police investigation of sexual assault

AKELEY, Minn. - City officials here have settled a lawsuit filed by a rural Akeley woman who claimed Akeley police did not investigate when she reported being sexually assaulted by an on-duty sheriff 's deputy.

The suit was settled for $55,000.

In May, Kristy Barsch filed a suit claiming she was sexually assaulted by on-duty Hubbard County Sheriff 's Deputy Greg Siera. Akeley Police Chief Eric Klein, police Officer Travis Carlson and the city were named as defendants for allegedly failing to report the assault.

Barsch initially filed a $2 million lawsuit against Siera, Carlson, Klein, Hubbard County and the city of Akeley.

No criminal charges have been filed against Siera, but he resigned from the Sheriff 's Department last spring.

The Akeley settlement with Barsch was announced in a prepared statement during a City Council meeting last week; no further details were disclosed.

Mayor Scott Vettleson stated, "The League of Minnesota Cities' attorney, Clifford Green, and Akeley's attorney, Steve Bolton, have both agreed the settlement is very advantageous to the city. The money award is being paid by the Minnesota League of Cities trust indemnification fund."

According to the settlement, the city is "admitting to no wrongdoing or liability."

Denise Rittgers, the city's deputy clerk said the city only has to pay a $250 deductible, but she added, the settlement could affect the city's future insurance premiums.

Earlier, the council contracted with the Bemidji Police Department to conduct an investigation regarding the allegations against Klein. The status of the investigation has not been discussed.

A pre-trial conference is scheduled Sept. 29 in St. Paul for the remaining defendants, Hubbard County and Siera.