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Hibbing priest accused of touching girls acquitted on all charges

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A Hibbing priest accused of touching teenage girls over their clothing was acquitted of the charges against him.

Jurors deliberated for about two hours Monday before finding Rev. Brian Lederer not guilty on all six criminal sexual conduct charges, the Hibbing Tribune reports.

Lederer, who worked as a priest at Blessed Sacrament Parish and Assumption Catholic School in Hibbing, was charged last year. Four girls accused him of snapping their bras, cupping their breasts, touching their buttocks and groin areas, the paper says. The alleged incidents happened after school hours.

Lederer didn't speak after the verdict was read, but his attorney Peter Wold said the jury made the logical choice, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

“I’m pleased. It was the right verdict if you heard the evidence,” he said Monday. The prosecution's case “didn’t come close to proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

However, prosecutor Jeff Vlatkovich called the verdict disappointing, WDIO says.

Lederer has been on administrative leave from the Catholic Diocese of Duluth since he was charged last May, reports note. His future with the diocese remains uncertain, the Duluth News Tribune says.

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