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Morris principal pleads not guilty in sex assault case

MORRIS, Minn. -- A high school principal accused of sexually assaulting a woman pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Stevens County District Court

Morris Area High School Principal Craig Peterson, 36, is charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct after allegedly assaulting an acquaintance at his Morris home in December.

Peterson has been on paid administrative leave since Dec. 23.

According to the criminal complaint, the 30-year-old woman met with Peterson for drinks Dec. 21 and they later headed to his house. She told police she either fell asleep or blacked out while Peterson was driving there.

The complaint says the woman recalled waking up naked in his bed with Peterson on top of her, having sex with her. The woman told police she pushed at Peterson’s chest, told him it hurt and asked him to stop. She told police Peterson forced her to have sex again and perform oral sex on him.

According to the complaint, Peterson took the woman back to her vehicle about 12:30 a.m. Dec. 22.

In a statement to police, Peterson confirmed they had sex but could not recall any conversations during sex and denied she pushed at his chest. He also denied the woman was tired or seemed intoxicated.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for March 19.

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