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A former Mille Lacs County sheriff's deputy has been accused of raping a girl when she was as young as six. 

Russell James Bankey, 73, was charged via summons in January with first-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection to sexually assaulting and raping a girl from about 2009-2015. 

Mille Lacs County Sheriff Don Lorge confirmed to Bring Me The News on Wednesday that Bankey had worked for the sheriff's office, part-time, in court security but could not comment on the open investigation, noting his office didn't handle the investigation. 

Court documents show Bankey was a sheriff's deputy who worked "closely with the court for many years," which has led to at least three judicial officers recusing themselves from the case. 

According to the criminal complaint, the victim told the Benton County Sheriff's Office in August 2021 that Bankey sexually abused her hundreds of times from about the time she was 6 or 7 until she was 10 or 11 years old, according to the criminal complaint.

Bankey assaulted her at a property in Garrison, Minnesota, as well as in his camper, charges said. 

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In August 2021, the victim contacted Bankey by phone (the call was recorded), with charges noting he apologized and said he assaulted her because "I guess I was lonesome." He also said he'd be in a "lot of trouble" if it ever got out about what he did. 

Bankey will make his initial court appearance at 10 a.m. on March 17.

Bankey also worked for the Mille Lacs Band Tribal Police Department, according to his LinkedIn page. Bring Me The News has reached out for comment. 

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