Henning man convicted of sexual conduct
News | Published on December 8, 2022 at 4:43pm EST | Author: Chad Koenen0
By Chad Koenen
A rural Henning man was convicted by a jury on Nov. 29 of four counts of criminal sexual conduct.
Erik Wenzel, age 56 of rural Henning, was convicted by a jury of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree-penetration or contact with a person under the age of 13, criminal sexual conduct in the first degree-penetration or contact with a victim under the age of 16-significant relationship, criminal sexual conduct-second degree-victim under the age of 13, and criminal sexual conduct in the second degree-significant relationship with a victim under the age of 16.
Wenzel is facing up to 30 years in prison, a $40,000 fine, or both for the most serious charges.
According to court documents, the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office received a report of sexual contact occurring between Wenzel and the victim, who was a 10-year-old juvenile female. The juvenile’s parents informed an Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Deputy that the juvenile told them about the alleged sexual contact. During a forensic interview on Aug. 25, 2021, the juvenile explained that Wenzel was married to a family member and detailed various incidents between her and the defendant beginning when she was four or five years old.
According to court documents, the juvenile said that she eventually watched a video at school about safety and then decided to tell her parents about what happened.
Wenzel was initially charged in 2021 and pleaded not guilty.
Sentencing for all four charges was set for Feb. 10, 2023, however, a court filing on Monday, Dec. 5 included an email from one of the reported jurors who said he found flaws with the prosecution’s case. In the email to the court he said he accepts responsibility for allowing himself to be pulled along with the majority despite his misgivings. He also cited the book of Deuteronomy in the Bible and asked “is there nothing that can be done to reverse this conviction?”
The court filing, which came from a law clerk from the judge’s office, asked both the Otter Tail County Attorney’s Office and representatives from BL Law Group to review the email sent to the court on Friday, Dec. 2 and determine if they believe that further proceedings are required prior to sentencing. If either side determined that additional proceedings, a hearing, or a motion is required, the court document stated they should contact the court to make an appropriate request.
The document also asked that if possible the requests should be made within 15 days of the completion of the trial.