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Mankato man accused of raping woman at Fargo-Moorhead hotel after sorority party

FARGO – A Mankato, Minn., man is accused of raping a female Minnesota State University Moorhead student at a hotel here last spring after a sorority formal.

Taylor Jerrod Pederson, 22, was charged Thursday in Cass County District Court with one count of gross sexual imposition, a Class A felony.

According to documents filed with the charges, Fargo police officer Amy Kingzett was dispatched to the Sanford Medical Center emergency room May 5 just after 1:30 p.m. to take a report.

The woman told Kingzett she had gone to a sorority formal the night before with a group of friends, including Pederson, the date of one of the other women.

The alleged victim had gone without a date of her own, she told the officer.

The group left the hotel to go downtown to the Old Broadway, leaving Pederson’s date, who was underage, behind at the hotel.

Two other women who had been out drinking with the woman were in the waiting room of the emergency room. They said each of them consumed about 10 shots of tequila and 10 Corona beers before 11 p.m., when a bar special ended.

A post on the Old Broadway’s Facebook page shows a 5-cent Corona special from 7 to 8:30 p.m., a $1.50 Corona and Patron tequila special from 8:30 to 9:30 and a $2.50 Corona and Patron special from 9:30 to 11 p.m. for Saturday, May 4.

The women told the officer they were shocked at how quickly the drinks had hit the victim, and they were worried she would get them kicked out of the bar after passing out at the table.

The alleged victim told police she recalled going to the Old Broadway, but not much else beyond vomiting there and dry-heaving in the parking lot of the La Quinta Inn, where the group had booked a room.

She told police she went straight to bed, which she was supposed to share with one of the other women.

But she told police she woke up to Pederson sexually assaulting her. She tried to stop him by rolling away, but he wouldn’t stop, she told the officer.

She passed out, then awoke again to find blood and bruises on her body, and went to the bathroom to get away from Pederson, who was trying to kiss and cuddle her.    

The two other women told police that Pederson seemed to take an interest in the alleged victim, and that there was flirting back and forth between the two all night.

Another woman told the officer the alleged victim and Pederson kissed at the bar, and that she warned him not to do anything with her because she was too drunk.

She told the officer that Pederson replied, “I know, I know. She’ll just go to bed.”

Detective Matthew Ysteboe re-interviewed one of the female witnesses, who denied there was kissing between the two at the bar.

Instead, the two did something together that women at their sorority do; someone puts a shot in one’s mouth and kisses another person, sharing the alcohol. She described it to the officer as something playful they did at the sorority, nothing serious, and would not describe it as making out.

Ysteboe interviewed Pederson at the Mankato Police Department, where he allegedly said the woman was passed out when he got into her bed.

The sex was consensual and the woman was aware for “most of it,” he claimed. But he did acknowledge the two were too drunk and should not have had sex, according to court records.

Pederson’s first court appearance is set for April 22.

A Fargo Holiday Inn official said the hotel was the site of a Gamma Phi Beta party at the hotel last May 4.

Dave Wahlberg, MSUM spokesman, said Gamma Phi Beta held its sorority formal that night, but not at the Holiday Inn, and that its members went to different locations, including hotels, after the formal event. He said campus organizations are not required to register their off-campus activities with the university.

“These are serious matters on university campuses across the nation,” he said.

Wahlberg said MSUM supervisors and student advisers are required to report sexual assault allegations to the university’s Title IX coordinator and to open an internal investigation into such allegations.

Educational privacy laws prohibit him from commenting on the May 4 incident, he said.

The woman has graduated from the university, he said.

An MSUM Gamma Phi Beta sorority spokesperson declined to comment.