Clay judge refuses to change bail conditions for Fargo man accused of sexual assaultMOORHEAD – A Clay County judge today refused to change the bail conditions for a Fargo man accused of physically and sexually assaulting a woman in her car in downtown Moorhead last month, despite the prosecution’s revelation that the man is under investigation for alleged offenses in Fargo.
By: Mike Nowatzki, INFORUM, Forum Staff Reports, inforum.com
MOORHEAD – A Clay County judge today refused to change the bail conditions for a Fargo man accused of physically and sexually assaulting a woman in her car in downtown Moorhead last month, despite the prosecution’s revelation that the man is under investigation for alleged offenses in Fargo.
In terse remarks directed at prosecutor Heidi Davies, Judge Lisa Borgen said it appeared the county attorney’s office was trying to use the hearing with media present to pressure her into changing the conditions for Richard Lee Haaland Jr., 46, who is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with the Sept. 6 incident.
At the request of Haaland’s attorney, Borgen also put a gag order on attorneys for both sides, saying speaking with the media about the case is “inappropriate” given its serious nature and the need to protect the alleged victim’s privacy.
Borgen’s comments appeared to be directed at previous statements made by Assistant Clay County Attorney Pam Harris, who publicly expressed strong disappointment with the amount of bail set for Haaland by Borgen on Sept. 26.
Harris had requested $1 million bail, telling a Forum reporter afterward that Haaland is a flight risk and has a lot of financial ability to flee.
“I don’t view this as a typical case,” she said.
Borgen set conditions of release for Haaland at $500,000 bail without conditions or $100,000 bail with conditions. Haaland posted $100,000 bond through a bail bond company.
Chief Assistant County Attorney Heidi Davies asked Borgen today to modify the conditions to allow electronic monitoring of Haaland’s whereabouts. Defense attorney Justin Bruntjen objected, saying Haaland showed up for court, has been in constant contact with his attorney and hasn’t been charged with a new crime.
Haaland, who has a prior rape conviction in Becker County, also surrendered his passport as ordered.
“He’s followed everything asked of him,” Bruntjen said.
Davies said her request was based on an investigation into offenses that occurred in Fargo that may generate other charges in Cass County, but she didn’t want to discuss the ongoing investigation in front of the reporters present.
Borgen allowed the attorneys to discuss it privately with her at the bench. When it was over, Davies returned to the prosecutor’s table and said Haaland is being investigated for intrusion into the privacy of others, but the matter has yet to be referred to Cass County prosecutors.
Borgen said the court “is well aware the county attorney’s office was dissatisfied” with the conditions she set, but added that until she hears “anything else on the record of substance,” she’s not going to modify the conditions.
Bruntjen asked that Haaland’s next court hearing be set for January, but Borgen set it for Dec. 10, saying she didn’t want the case to drag out.
“We’re going to try this ting ASAP,” she said.