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Former police officer accused of 'grooming' young girls will be resentenced

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The Minnesota Court of Appeals ordered a new sentencing for a former Minneapolis police officer who was accused of using social media to "groom" girls for future sexual encounters.

In the decision released Monday, the appeals court ruling reversed 34-year-old Bradley Schnickel's sentence of 30 months in prison and remanded it back to the lower court.

In May 2014, Schnickel was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to five of the 20 felony counts he was charged with, including: criminal sexual conduct, attempted criminal sexual conduct and engaging in electronic communication relating or describing sexual conduct with a child.

That was a significant downward departure from state sentencing guidelines, which call for nearly 12 years behind bars, KSTP reports.

And the court of appeals agreed, saying Monday: the "district court improperly relied exclusively on offender-related factors to support its downward durational departure." Such factors included Schnickel showing remorse, accepting responsibility and demonstrating willingness for treatment.

Schnickel was a Minneapolis police officer when he began contacting middle- and high school-aged girls – some as young as 12 – via Facebook, "grooming" them for future sexual encounters.

He was fired by the police department following an investigation that led to charges.

No date has been set for the new sentencing, WCCO reports.

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