Small Minn. town's mayor charged in rape


The mayor of Halstad, a small town in northwest Minnesota, has been charged in the rape of a female acquaintance last week, Forum Communications reports.

Steve Sortland, 44, appeared Wednesday in Norman County District Court after prosecutors filed felony charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and third-degree criminal sexual conduct, Forum reported.

The woman said she and Sortland earlier had consensual sex, but that he later forced her into a sex act she did not want to do, Forum reported. Doctors found injuries to the woman, according to a criminal complaint.

According to the complaint, Sortland denied raping the woman and told investigators the sex was consensual, Forum reported.

Halstad is a town of about 600 people on the North Dakota border, roughly 35 miles north of Fargo.

Several residents in town said they were shocked by the allegations, KVRR reported. Long-time council member Renea Horning told Valley News Live that Sortland is in his second term as mayor. Halstad's vice mayor Shane Carlson is likely to call a special council meeting next week to discuss the city's leadership options, Valley News Live reported.

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