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Cop's sexual misconduct trial

WILLMAR -- Jury selection is scheduled to begin this morning in the sexual misconduct trial of Paul Reed Schmidt, 35, of Atwater.

Schmidt faces felony fourth-degree and gross misdemeanor fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct charges in Kandiyohi County District Court. He is accused of groping a female ride-along participant last October while he was working as an Atwater police officer.

The trial is scheduled for three days before District Judge David. L. Mennis.

Mennis issued an order Monday addressing numerous trial issues, including what portions of the defendant's recorded statement to law enforcement will be heard by the jury and that the evidence will include a written transcript of that recorded statement. The criminal complaint filed last December against Schmidt was amended in August to elevate one of the charges to felony level. Schmidt's attorney, Julius Nolen, filed a motion to dismiss, arguing a lack of evidence that Schmidt used force or coercion.

Mennis denied that motion last week.

Michael Lieberg is a Stearns County assistant county attorney and is serving as a special Kandiyohi County attorney to prosecute the case.

Two gross misdemeanor charges were filed against Schmidt on Dec. 27, 2007. According to the complaint, the woman contacted the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office to report a sexual assault. The woman told a detective that she was a ride-along participant with Schmidt, who is a licensed peace officer and was on duty at the time.

During the early morning hours of Oct. 16, Schmidt took her to the Atwater Police Department, where she said they watched video clips on a city computer. The woman said when she got up to move away from Schmidt, he tackled and restrained her. She said he also made a sexual request of her. The allegations also state that Schmidt groped the woman's chest and genitals through her clothing, then pulled her to him and kissed her several times.

According to the complaint, Schmidt told the Sheriff's Office detective in a statement that some "wrestling" took place at the Police Department and that he grabbed the victim's breast "by accident." He did not remember grabbing her genital area.