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Published February 08, 2012, 11:52 AM

Moorhead man accused of rape takes plea offer before second day of trial

MOORHEAD – A Moorhead man accused of raping a 22-year-old woman in his home pleaded guilty to a reduced charge this morning before the second day of his trial in Clay County District Court.

By: Mike Nowatzki, INFORUM

MOORHEAD – A Moorhead man accused of raping a 22-year-old woman in his home pleaded guilty to a reduced charge this morning before the second day of his trial in Clay County District Court.

Jesse Lee Paskey, 28, pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor charge of criminal sexual conduct.

Paskey had been charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a felony charge carrying up to 30 years in prison.

Sentencing was set for March 19.

If Judge Galen Vaa follows the joint sentencing recommendation, Paskey will receive 365 days in jail with credit for time served and the balance suspended, plus two years of supervised probation.

Paskey has been in jail since his arrest Sept. 5.

As part of the plea deal, he admitted in court that he had non-consensual sex with the victim on the night of Sept. 4-5 in his home at 1409 9th Ave. S., said Assistant County Attorney Pamela Harris.

On the trial’s first day Tuesday, the jury was picked, attorneys gave their opening arguments and the victim was almost finished with her testimony when the trial broke for the day, Harris said.

Paskey was offered the plea deal this morning.

“It was just based on the testimony that was coming in, that it seemed to be the appropriate offer,” Harris said.

Harris said she didn’t want to risk Paskey walking away with no conviction if the jury were to acquit him. Because of pre-trial rulings, jurors weren’t going to hear that Paskey was required to register as a predatory offender after being convicted of false imprisonment in 2010, she said.

Under the joint recommendation, Paskey also will have to undergo a sex offender evaluation, said his attorney, Mara Rausch.

Harris said Paskey will likely have to register as a predatory offender for life.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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