A man from New Ulm is charged with sexually assaulting one teenage girl and trying to video tape another in the bathroom, while the girls' mother is accused of not doing anything to stop it.
Robert Sorenson was charged in Nicollet County with five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, five more counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, and two counts of interfering with privacy.
His partner, the mother of the two girls, is charged with three counts of endangering a child.
Details from the charges
According to the charges filed against both:
The first victim said Robert Sorenson began giving her massages in the summer of 2013, when she was under the age of 16, during which he would use his hand to violate her. In addition, Sorenson took her to a hotel room after a birthday party they attended, gave her marijuana, and sexually assaulted her.
She told her mother about the incidents, who asked the teen to talk about it in front of Robert Sorenson – the teen wasn't able to do so, and so started trying to avoid being at home, and no more sexual contact occurred.
A second victim, also under the age of 18, said she found a camera hidden under towels in the bathroom when she was getting ready to bathe, after Robert Sorenson ran the water for her. She yelled, and Robert Sorenson ran in, grabbed the camera, and tried to hide it. He later admitted it was a "stupid mistake."
On Jan. 29, the second girl also said she went to taker a shower and left underwear in her room. When she returned, Robert Sorenson was in there and her underwear was gone.
As for the mother, she was made aware of both the missing underwear and the camera in the bathroom, as well as the activity in the hotel room, yet "took no steps" to protect the children from further harm.
Authorities, after being made aware of the claims when the first victim went to police, obtained a search warrant.
The Nicollet County Sheriff's Office found multiple video cameras, CDs, DVDs and computers in their home. Images on the CDs and DVDs that were able to be opened contained Robert Sorenson and the mother engaging in sex acts. Video of bestiality was also discovered.
The CDs and DVDs that couldn't be opened were sent to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for more analysis.
The pair were arrested Friday. Robert Sorenson admitted to investigators during an interview he put the camera in the bathroom to get footage of the girl bathing, but deleted the video and said it was a "bad decision." He told authorities he did not take the underwear however.
He also told authorities yes, he stopped at a hotel on the way back from a party with the first teen because he was tired. He gave her marijuana and they gave each other massages, he said, but denied any sexual touching.
The sheriff's office says both accused were in court Monday.
Robert Sorenson is being held on $200,000 bail without conditions, and will be back in court March 14. Bail for the girls' mother was set at $6,000 without conditions, and she'll be back in court Feb. 28.
Child sex abuse
One study found one in every five girls, and one in every 20 boys, is sexually abused as a child, the National Center for Victims of Crime says. Children from 7 to 13 years old are usually the most vulnerable.
An earlier study found three-quarters of children who were sexually abused were victimized by someone they knew well.
In Minnesota, figures have shown one in every 70 children in the state has been sexually assaulted, with teenage girls the most likely victims.
Anyone who wants to report child sexual abuse can get help doing so through the Darkness to Light organization's helpline at 1-866-367-5444 (FOR LIGHT). Click here for more details.
RAINN also has a 24-hour abuse hotline at 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE).