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Rochester man charged in sexual contact case

By Janice Gregorson

gregor@postbulletin.com

Criminal charges have been filed against a Rochester man based on work by an FBI task force in Michigan that investigates people who solicit sex with minors via the Internet.

Dean Michael Pennell, 31, is charged in Olmsted District Court with three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly having sexual contact with a 6-year-old girl.

Bail was set at $50,000 without conditions attached or $25,000 with conditions attached. He returns to court Feb. 10.

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According to the criminal complaint, an undercover agent with an FBI Task Force in Detroit contacted local officials about Pennell.

The undercover agent, using an online profile of being a mother looking for a male figure to take care of her and her two young daughters, connected with Pennell via the Internet on Jan.11. According to the complaint, the agent received an e-mail from Pennell that said he was living with a friend who has two young children, a 6-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy, and that he had sexually touched the girl. The agent also said that Pennell wrote, "I would do it more but need this roof over my head at the moment."

Authorities executed a warrant at Pennell's residence on Jan. 26.

According to the complaint, the homeowners told police that Pennell had lived there about a year, and that they never suspected their daughter had been sexually touched by Pennell. The girl, in a separate interview, denied being sexually touched by Pennell.

According to the complaint, Pennell told investigators that he uses the Internet to "chat his urges out of his system," and said there are times he has difficulty controlling his urges. Police seized Pennell's computer and other items.

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