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A Minnesota high school guidance counselor is charged with criminal sexual conduct, with prosecutors alleging the victim was a 16-year-old student.

Richard J. Polley, a 32-year-old counselor at Albert Lea High School, was charged in Freeborn County District Court on Friday with felony third-degree criminal sexual conduct. The criminal complaint says the victim is a female student who had regularly gone to him for help with academic requests, as well as to talk if something was bothering her.

Polley also served as head coach of the girl's varsity basketball team. The district on Thursday revealed it had placed Polley on paid administrative leave "pending the outcome of an investigation," but did not provide any information about the nature of that investigation. 

The charges against Polley, who is from Albert Lea, reference his authority role as a counselor at a secondary school, with the criminal sexual conduct count citing a "prohibited occupational relationship."

The charges say that police, on Jan. 12, learned about a possible sexual relationship between Polley and the student, with investigators interviewing the victim the next day. 

According to the criminal complaint:

The victim said Polley, whom she didn't know before this year, was her guidance counselor, and helped with things like switching classes. He was also someone she could talk to during the school day if things were bothering her. 

In December of 2021 they connected on Snapchat, with Polley more than once suggesting it was inappropriate and not a good idea for them to be friends on the platform, yet never removing her from his account.

The evening of Jan. 8, Polley was at Bleachers sports bar and mentioned over the phone he might need a ride home. The victim offered to pick him up, but he said it wasn't a good idea and instead drove himself home. He then suggested she come over to say hello and provided his address.

The victim went to his house twice that night. When leaving the first time, Polley told her his door would be unlocked if she wanted to stop by again, and that she could wake him up. During her second visit, Polley sexually assaulted her, and more than once asked if she was "OK with it."

The victim left. She told investigators she saw Polley every day that following week at school, but they never spoke about what happened. He did ask how her weekend was and if she was OK.

Polley was booked into Freeborn County Jail at 3:11 p.m. Thursday. He made a first court appearance Friday morning where a judge set conditions of bail. His next court date is scheduled for Jan. 27 at 1:30 p.m.

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