Charges: Patrol sergeant harassed man with texts, repeatedly drove by his house

The victim said he was getting between 10 and 100 texts a day at times, according to the charges.
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A patrol sergeant in west-central Minnesota is charged with stalking a local resident, including accusations he sent the victim 10 to 100 texts a day at one point, and frequently drove by the victim's house.

The charges were filed Thursday against Sgt. Joel Engler of the Meeker County Sheriff's Office. He'd been placed on paid administrative leave on Sept. 13, 2016, when the allegations were first brought up, the office said in a statement Thursday. Police investigated, and this week Engler was charged by the McLeod County Attorney's Office with two counts of stalking.

The victim told investigators Engler had been obsessed with him for several years, and showed text exchanges where he told Engler to stop contacting him and stay away from his house, according to the charges.

But Engler continued sending texts, which became more threatening, and would drive by the victim's home repeatedly, the complaint says.

According to the charges, that included an incident on Sept. 15 when the victim said Engler entered his home without approval, and he then watched Engler sneak around – looking into rooms and the garage – before leaving. Investigators looked at his squad car's GPS and found Engler was at that location for about 6 minutes that day.

The GPS also showed Engler "frequently" drove past the victim's house, even after being told to stay away, according to the charges.

The victim said Engler's actions scared him, the charges state.

Engler, according to the complaint, admitted to investigators he sent most of the messages, and admitted to going into the victim's home on Sept. 15 despite nobody letting him in.

Both stalking charges are gross misdemeanors. The sentence, if convicted, is up to a year in prison and /or up to a $3,000 fine for each.

The West Central Tribune says he's been with the department since 2007.

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