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Bemidji man charged with sex crime

Justin Ronald Schmickle, 24, of Bemidji, pleaded innocent April 19, to serious felony third-degree criminal sexual conduct by force or coercion. His next court date will be June 29.

According to the criminal complaint:

At 1 a.m. Sept. 29, Beltrami County Sheriff's deputies responded to a call from North Country Regional Hospital. A woman reported that she had been sexually assaulted. At the hospital, the reporting party was identified as an 18-year-old woman, a vulnerable adult under the legal guardianship of a patient in the hospital, had been staying at the hospital with her guardian.

The deputies learned that she had been contacted that night by a man she had met on a social networking site some weeks earlier. The man had come to the hospital and picked her up. He drove her to a remote location on Archery Road, where, in the backseat of the vehicle, he had sex with her. During the act, she had protested that he was hurting her. She had told the man: "I don't want to." After the act, the man had taken the young woman back to the hospital.

Through computer records and a cell phone, which the man had used to send messages, deputies were able to identify the man as Schmickle. Deputies went to his home, pounded on the door and announced their presence. No one responded to the door. Deputies secured a telephonic search warrant, which authorized the deputies to enter the residence by force if necessary. The deputies tried again and then forced the door open. Once inside, the deputies located and arrested Schmickle.

At the Beltrami County Jail, Schmickle said he had picked up the young woman earlier that night and had sex with her. He said the sex was consensual. Schmickle said he had tried to pick up the woman from the residence of her guardian in Cass Lake several days earlier. Schmickle said the young woman's guardian would not let her leave with him. The guardian had told him that one of the young woman's relatives had been raped by a man that she had met casually. Schmickle said he had no reason to suspect that the woman was a vulnerable adult.