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Former Renaissance Festival supervisor pleads guilty to sexually assaulting 3 teenagers

The three victims worked with Bryan Ellinger at the time of the assaults.
Bryan Ellinger

Bryan Ellinger

A former Minnesota Renaissance Festival and Trail of Terror employee admitted to sexually assaulting three teenage girls when they worked for him at the popular Shakopee attractions. 

Bryan E. Ellinger, 31, of Shakopee, pleaded guilty Tuesday in connection to the assaults, according to court records. The assaults occurred between 2012 and 2017, while he was a manager.

The plea agreement says Ellinger admits to first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection to the three cases, with the other charges being dismissed. 

Ellinger is set to be sentenced on Jan. 24, 2022, with the plea agreement showing he'll serve between 185 to 229 months (more than 15 years to 19 years) in prison. He will also be required to register as a predatory offender for the rest of his life.

The criminal charges stem from three separate cases.

In January of this year, Ellinger was arrested and charged with raping a 15-year-old girl in 2013, when he was 24 and worked as her manager at Trail of Terror. Court documents said they had a sexual relationship for two months, and that he sexually assaulted her in a Trail of Terror display. The victim also said he raped her when she was passed out at a hotel. 

In that case, he was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. He pleaded guilty on Tuesday to third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

A few months after Ellinger's arrest two more victims came forward. The second victim, who was 15 when she worked at Trail of Terror in 2012 said Ellinger, then 24, was her direct supervisor. He started hugging her and asked her to go with him to a festival trailer, saying, "I'm your boss, it's going to be OK." She went with, and he raped her, charges state. 

He was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct and third-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with that case. He pleaded guilty on Tuesday to first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The third victim to come forward said she was 17 in 2017 when Ellinger, then 28, was her direct supervisor at the Renaissance Festival and Trail of Terror. She told police he sexually assaulted her in a wine cooler on the festival grounds and at his mom's home in Shakopee, during which the victim said he "forced" her through manipulation to have a sexual encounter with him and his girlfriend, who also reportedly worked at the festivals, court documents say. 

He was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection to that case. He pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct on Tuesday. 

Prosecutors said Ellinger frequently discussed his victims during jail calls, sometimes mocking them using sarcastic voices. Other times he admitted to being a "predator," saying, "I guess I have predatory behavior because I'm a predator. I'm into different things." He admitted he needs therapy for his sex addiction but said he's never been "forceful," charges against him say.

Police reviewed jail phone call records in which Ellinger discussed the third victim, saying: "I'm not worried about [the victim]. I knew that would come back and bite me in the butt." He also was heard telling his girlfriend to delete one of his Facebook accounts, telling her to "make up a story" if she's asked about it, charges said.

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