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Jury says Hastings, Minn., man guilty of first-degree sexual conduct

A 41-year-old Hastings, Minn., man will be sentenced Nov. 8 for first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a 9-month-old girl.

A Dakota County jury Tuesday found Michael Frederick Schmidt guilty and decided that aggravating factors justified an upward departure from Minnesota sentencing guidelines. The guidelines call for a prison sentence of up to 30 years and/or a fine of between $12,000 to $40,000.

Judge Joseph Carter ordered a presentence investigation and a psychosexual evaluation.

"We are pleased to have brought Michael Schmidt to justice for this egregious act of violence," said Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom. "We will be seeking a lengthy prison term based upon the jury's conclusions that this was committed with particular cruelty against a particularly vulnerable victim in a situation that violated a position of trust."

Schmidt who had been free on bail, was immediately taken into custody and will be lodged in the Dakota County Jail until the sentencing. During court testimony Tuesday, Schmidt said he was innocent of the charge.

Hastings Police had charged Schmidt after an April 24 incident in which the girl had been brought to the emergency room at Regina Medical Center, Hastings. Due to the severity of the injuries the girl was transported by ambulance to Regions Hospital in St. Paul. Where her injuries were surgically repaired.

In a statement to hospital personnel and police, Schmidt said he and his wife had been babysitting the girl at their home in Hastings . He said her injuries occurred when he was changing her diaper. When she began to roll off a couch, Schmidt said he grabbed at the girl to keep her from falling. He said a hangnail caused the injuries to her body.

Medical personnel at the hospital said that the nature and extent of the jury "is highly inconsistent with Schmidt's explanation of how it was caused."

Backstrom thanked Nicole Nee, the assistant Dakota County attorney, who prosecuted the case, and the Hastings Police Department which investigated the matter.

The Hastings (Minn.) Star-Gazette is owned by Forum Communications Co.