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Men plead innocent to sex crime charge

Brandon John Chmielewski, 25, of Leonard, and Samuel Robert Smith, 21, of Bemidji, pleaded innocent Nov. 16 before Judge Paul Benshoof in Beltrami County District Court to serious felony third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim between 13 and15 years old. Their next court dates will be Dec. 15.

According to the criminal complaint on April 14, Beltrami county Sheriff's deputies were searching for a female juvenile runaway. They went to a residence on the 1000 block of Beltrami Avenue Northwest. The deputies met with two men, one identified as Smith, the other as Chmielewski.

Both men claimed that the female runaway was not at the residence. The runaway was found hiding in a closet and taken into custody. She was transported to the Northwest Minnesota Juvenile Center where she told deputies that both men had sexually penetrated her without her consent. She said that the men had undressed her in the basement of the residence and had sexual intercourse with her on a mattress on the floor. She told the deputies she had not washed the semen from her body. The girl was taken to North County Regional Hospital where a sexual assault kit was gathered.

The deputies went to the residence and spoke with both men, the complaint states. Both men denied having sex with the girl. They also claimed to be unaware that the other man had sexual intercourse with her. Biological and physical evidence was seized at the residence, both pursuant to consent and to search warrant. The swabs and sexual assault kit were sent to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for analysis.

On June 24, the BCA laboratory issued a report of the analysis. According to the report, swabs indicated the presence of semen and seminal fluid. An investigator contacted one of the men, who declined to give any further evidence.