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Grafton man found not guilty in sex case shortly before new charges were filed

Anthony Soliz Herrera Jr.

GRAFTON, N.D.—A Grafton man is accused of sexual assault against a juvenile in charges filed against him the same day he was found not guilty in a separate sex assault case.

Anthony Soliz Herrera Jr. appeared Friday in Walsh County District Court on two Class AA felony charges of gross sexual imposition. The new charges were filed Thursday and came about an hour after he was found not guilty during a bench trial on a Class A felony charge of gross sexual imposition from 2014, said Theodore Sandberg, Herrera's defense attorney.

Walsh County State's Attorney Barb Whelan confirmed the two cases are separate.

In the first case, Herrera was accused of having sex with a woman while she was unconscious sometime between March 10 and 12 in an apartment in Grafton, N.D.

In the second case, Herrera is accused of sexual acts on two occasions with a juvenile, who was a witness in the first case, according to court documents. It's unclear exactly when the alleged acts occurred.

Grafton Police were made aware of the the second case in April 2016, but charging documents were not signed until May 2017.

Police Chief Anthony Dumas' name is on the charging documents as a complainant. He said his office submits evidence and documents that would result in potential charges to the state's attorney's office, but prosecutors determine when the charges are notarized and filed into court.

It's not uncommon for charges to be filed months after an alleged crime has occurred, Dumas said, adding in some cases the charge will be filed shortly before the statute of limitations runs out.

"It just depends on (the prosecutor's) caseload and what is going on with them," Dumas said. "Often times when someone is charged with something, they'll let that pan out before they bring subsequent charges."

Sandberg told the Herald he doesn't think there was any animosity on the state's attorney's part in filing the new charges the same day as the trial ended. He said he didn't know why the charges weren't filed earlier.

"I don't agree with the charges, and I think he is still not guilty, but that will have to be played out in court," he said.

Whelan said she couldn't comment specifically on Herrera's case but that the charges were filed within the statute of limitations.

"Prosecutors can file charges anytime within the applicable statute of limitations," she wrote in an email. "In North Dakota, there are very specific laws regarding when the statute of limitation begins to run on cases involving sexual abuse of minors. (Century Code) says that if a victim is under the age of 15, the statute doesn't even begin to run until the victim has reached the age of 15."

She said the victim had not reached that age yet.

Herrera's next court appearance is set for Aug. 11.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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