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A northern Minnesota divorce attorney accused of sexually assaulting a client failed to show up for a scheduled court hearing last week, then hours later sent the judge a direct message over Zoom asking to "discuss the situation."

Jesse Powell, of Bigfork, was charged in December with multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct. Prosecutors allege the 32-year-old —  of Powell Law, PLLC, in Grand Rapids — sexually harassed and sexually assaulted a woman who had hired him to represent her in divorce proceedings. 

Read more: Charges: Divorce attorney sexually assaulted woman who had hired him

His first court appearance in the case had been scheduled for 1 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022.

But Powell, according to court filings, failed to show up. A warrant was issued for his arrest.

Jesse Powell.

Jesse Powell.

That afternoon, Powell then messaged the judge assigned to his case, Annie Claesson-Huseby.

"Just so you know ... Mr. Powell showed up in my zoom courtroom at 3:15," the judge wrote in an email to Itasca County Court Administration at 4:01 p.m.. "He sent me a direct chat saying sorry for being late and wanted to discuss the situation with me."

Claesson-Huseby wrote she "read the chat out loud on the record" and told Powell she couldn't talk about the case with him, as that would be ex parte (a legal term referring to improper contact with a party or judge).

The judge's email was then filed to the case as correspondence.

Powell was arrested Tuesday. The following day, after a court hearing, he was conditionally released from custody on $50,000 bail. He must remain law abiding, cannot consume or possess alcohol, cannot possess a firearm and must not have any contact with the victim.

His next court date is set for Monday, Jan. 24.

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When Powell was charged on Dec. 21, 2021, the two women whose accounts are detailed in the criminal charges released a statement through the Standpoint advocacy group and domestic violence trainer and consultant Melissa Petrangelo Scaia.

The women, identified only by their initials, allege Powell "victimized us at a time when we were vulnerable and when we needed his help in court."

They also offered a hand to any other victims that might be out there, saying: "If you make a report, you will not be alone and will be provided the support you need."

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