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Morris principal facing criminal sexual conduct charges

By Sue Dieter and Kim Ukura, Forum News Service

MORRIS, Minn.  – Morris Area High School Principal Craig Peterson has been charged with four felony counts of criminal sexual conduct after allegedly assaulting an acquaintance at his home in Morris.

Peterson, 36, has been charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree and two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree. Peterson made his first appearance in Stevens County District Court on Thursday.

According to the complaint, a 30-year-old woman arranged to meet Peterson about 9 p.m. Saturday at the American Legion in Morris. After several drinks, the woman said she knew she was getting tipsy. Peterson and the woman decided to leave the bar and go to a bowling alley, but discovered it was closed. Peterson told the victim he had an air hockey table and pool table at his house and they agreed to go there, the complaint states.

In a statement, the woman told police that she either fell asleep or blacked out while Peterson was driving.

The complaint said the woman recalled waking up in Peterson’s bed with him on top of her. The woman told police that she pushed at Peterson’s chest, told him it hurt and asked him to stop.

In a statement to police, Peterson said the woman did not appear tired or intoxicated. Peterson confirmed they had sex, but could not recall any conversations during sex and denied that she pushed at his chest.

According to the complaint, Peterson took the woman back to her vehicle at the bar about 12:30 a.m.

The woman drove to Stevens Community Medical Center, where she reported the alleged assault.

Peterson was brought to the Stevens County Law Enforcement Center on Monday and provided a statement to police.

Peterson was not asked to enter a plea Thursday.

Judge Gerald Seibel set bail at $25,000 with conditions or $75,000 unconditional. Peterson’s next court appearance is set for Monday.

After the hearing, Morris Area Superintendent Scott Monson indicated that Peterson had been placed on paid administrative leave but offered no other comment.