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A former high school resource officer accused of inappropriately touching numerous female students has pleaded guilty. 

Adam G. Pelton, assigned to Park High School at the time of the incidents, filed his guilty plea Monday in Washington County Court. The 42-year-old's plea covers all seven felony criminal sexual conducts counts that had been filed against him in February of 2020.

Pelton was a sworn Cottage Grove police officer and working as a school resource officer at Park High School when the behavior occurred from 2018-19, prosecutors said.

Seven victims told investigators that Pelton was keen to seek out hugs from female students, including them, and would go out of his way to touch their buttocks while doing so. The victims were all under the age of 18 at the time. Pelton also added one of them on Snapchat and two or three times asked her over the app to "send nudes," the charges state.

The petition does not include any sentencing parameters though notes Pelton, who is from River Falls, Wisconsin, may ask the court for a departure from the guidelines. Sentencing is set for June 24, 2022. 

The investigation into Pelton began on Oct. 4, 2019, when authorities learned that multiple female students said Pelton touched their buttocks over their clothing. In conversations with seven students that followed, all of them reported similar encounters, with some saying he touched them inappropriately multiple times a week over the course of a few months during that school year, according to the complaint.

Two victims were so bothered by the behavior that they stopped initiating hugs with Pelton, though he continued to seek out hugs, the complaint says. The students said they saw Pelton touch other girls' buttocks as well.

Some of the incidents were seen on school surveillance cameras, but most of the sexual contact happened inside his office, with students saying "the hugs given outside his office were different from the hugs given inside his office." 

When one victim was asked if she or her friends had reported his actions, she responded: "We aren't going to say anything. I mean, he's a police officer." 

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