FARGO — A member of the North Dakota Air National Guard has been accused of raping a subordinate in Fargo.
Tech. Sgt. Erik Eldon Clemenson, 44, of Glyndon, Minn., appeared Friday, Oct. 16, in Cass County District Court on a Class B felony of sexual imposition. If found guilty, he could face up to 10 years in prison.
The Fargo Police Department started investigating the allegations in September after the North Dakota Air National Guard Base reported the sexual assault to law enforcement in late August.
Court documents stated Clemenson asked a female guard member of lower rank if he could sleep on her couch on Nov. 7 after a night of drinking. The woman said she didn’t have anything to drink, but Clemenson was allegedly intoxicated enough that he was slurring his words.
After arriving at the woman’s apartment, she showed Clemenson where the couch was before she went to bed, the complaint said. Clemenson used the bathroom, came to her bed as she was lying there and said he was going to sleep with her, not on the couch, according to the incident report.
The woman told Clemenson no several times, but he continuously touched her inappropriately before raping her, the incident report alleged. He then fell asleep, the complaint said.
Clemenson told police he had arranged a ride with others that night because he had a driving while under the influence conviction on his record, the complaint said. The people he had a ride with left without him, so he asked the woman if he could sleep on her couch, according to the complaint.
He initially denied having sex with the woman but later said it was consensual, according to court documents. In a later statement, Clemenson said the woman had “been giving him attention at work and flirting with him, and that he had become infatuated with her,” the complaint said. He said he gave into temptation, the complaint said.
Police noted in the complaint the woman was scared because Clemenson is more than twice her age, he was drunk and “essentially her boss.”
Judge Steven Marquart set bond at $10,000, but allowed Clemenson to pay 10% cash if he complies with a no-contact order.
The North Dakota Air National Guard confirmed Clemenson is a technical sergeant for the 119th Wing, also known as the Happy Hooligans. He joined the Guard in 1994. He also helped organize Special Olympics Polar Plunge events in Fargo.
A recent mugshot was unavailable for Clemenson since he was summoned to court instead of being booked into Cass County Jail. The Forum used a mugshot from Clemenson's DUI arrest. He pleaded guilty to that charge and received 360 days of probation.
In December 1999, Clemenson was put on unpaid suspension as a Lisbon Police Officer after he was charged with misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of minors and making false reports to a law enforcement officer, according to a news article by the Associated Press. Clemenson initially denied any wrongdoing in connection to the July and August incidents in 1999.
Forum News SErvice was unable to access records for that criminal case since it has been sealed.
He also was suspended with pay for a November 1999 incident when he shot out two tires of a vehicle during a police chase, the article said. No charges were filed in that incident.
The 119th Wing has a "long-standing, active sexual assault response and prevention program dedicated to awareness, prevention, education and victim advocacy, said 1st Lt. Jeremiah Colbert, a spokesperson for the North Dakota Air National Guard. It also employs a sexual assault response coordinator who provides resources and crisis intervention to victims.
The National Guard will continue to monitor Clemenson's case as it proceeds through the justice system, Colbert said. To protect the privacy of those involved in the case and the integrity of the investigation, the 119th Wing said it could not provide additional information on the case.
"The NDANG takes all allegations of sexual misconduct very seriously and is deeply disturbed by any denunciation that undermines our core values and violates our standards of conduct," he said.