Man denies assaulting 10-year-old girl

By Nikki Merfeld


A man accused of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old Mower County girl pleaded not guilty Wednesday and challenged the legality of a search that produced evidence prosecutors hope to use.

Budd Richard Cooper, 57 of Robbinsdale, Minn., is accused of breaking conditions of his probation when he took the girl and her brothers to a hotel at Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake, Minn. There, according to Mower County Chief Deputy Attorney Eric Herendeen, Cooper sexually assaulted the girl and videotaped portions of his actions.

However, Linda Zarrett, Cooper's public defender, said a video camera and tapes confiscated from Cooper's van were obtained illegally by Mower County sheriff's detective Jonathan Juenger.


Juenger testified that he and detective Glen Farnum arrested Cooper on April 28 after speaking with a Mower County Department of Human Services employee initiating a Child in Need of Protective Services hearing for the 10-year-old. The caseworker had run a license-plate check after learning Cooper was living at the girl's home in Mower County and baby-sitting the children. That check, Juenger said, showed Cooper is a registered sex offender who failed to report his address to his Hennepin County probation officer.

Judge Donald Rysavy said he will take the matter under advisement and asked both attorneys to file briefs defending their positions by July 30.

"There was plenty of time to get a warrant, and he should have," said Zarrett after the hearing.

Herendeen said that even if Rysavy rules to suppress the evidence, the sexual misconduct charge will proceed because there is other evidence, including testimony from the girl's mother.

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