A jury trial set to start this week was canceled Friday after a Dassel man accused of having sex with a 12-year-old girl agreed to a plea deal.

Michael Rarer, 23, pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct, along with second-degree illegal drug possession. Rarer was initially charged with first-degree sexual criminal conduct.

A mental examination to determine Rarer’s competency was ordered in October, and a judge ruled in March that Rarer was competent to proceed with his defense.

A second man charged in the case, 49-year-old Kenneth Cope, pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct in November, and he was sentenced in March to 57 months in prison.

According to the plea agreement, Rarer would serve 62 months in prison for criminal sexual conduct and 67 months for drug possession, with the two sentences running concurrently.

County Attorney Brandi Schiefelbein filed motions April 26 to suppress or admit certain evidence which could have influenced a trial’s outcome. District Judge Michael Thompson granted several of Schiefelbein’s motions, including ones related to Rarer seeking to claim that he was misled about the victim’s age. Not knowing a victim’s age is not a legal defense in Minnesota, Thompson noted.

A criminal complaint alleges the girl met Rarer last April through a social media website. After the two met at the Coon Rapids mall, Rarer brought her to his apartment, where he lived with Cope, on the 500 block of Maple Street in Dassel. Rarer allegedly had sex with the girl and then left to go to his job at a gas station.

While Rarer was at work, Cope and the girl started drinking alcohol until they went into Cope’s bedroom, where the two allegedly had sex.

When Rarer returned from work, the girl reportedly told him that Cope had sexually assaulted her, and Rarer gave a friend $20 to drive the girl to St. Cloud.

Both Cope and Rarer later told authorities they believed the girl to be between 17 and 20 years old.

In searching the home, authorities reportedly found eight grams of methamphetamine in Rarer’s bedroom.

Recommended for you