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Northwest Minnesota prosecutor dismisses rape charge after accuser leaves area

WARREN, Minn. -- A criminal case alleging a northwest Minnesota man forced a woman to have sex with him earlier this year has been dropped after his accuser left the area.

Marshall County Attorney Donald Aandal filed paperwork Monday, Aug. 20, to dismiss a felony criminal sexual conduct charge against Justen James Lawrence Ekholm, 27, of Alvarado.

Ekholm had faced a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, but the accuser in the case appears to have left the area, according to a proposal from Aandal’s office to dismiss the charge.

“In the interest of justice. The victim in this matter appears to have left the area, had her phone number disconnected, and left no forwarding information,” Aandal wrote, providing reasons for the case’s dismissal. “Therefore, the charges in the above referenced matter may be dismissed, without prejudice,” Aandal wrote in his proposal.

Dismissal without prejudice means the case could be brought back. A judge must rule on the matter yet.