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Criminal charges dismissed against Byron man

Criminal charges against a Byron man accused of sexually assaulting a minor have been dismissed this week under unusual circumstances, which Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem described as "very rare."

A jury trial for Robert William Silker began Monday in Olmsted County District Court after he was accused of second-degree criminal sexual conduct -victim under 13 on July 14, 2014. Olmsted County prosecutor Eric Woodford abruptly ended the trial on Wednesday when the case was dismissed, but it's unclear what exactly happened to prompt that course of action.

Ostrem said Thursday that "something came to light that made (continuing the case) an impossibility."

"I really can't get into it due to non-public (details) … but it completely hosed our case and we had no choice but to dismiss," Ostrem said.

Because the jury already had been selected and jeopardy was attached to the case by District Judge Joseph Chase, it's impossible for Silker to be prosecuted again for the same charges. A conviction could have resulted in a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison, a $35,000 fine, or both.


Public defender Bill Wright said his client was "very happy" by the turn of events.

"We felt he was innocent … and the new evidence that came forward substantiated our defense," Wright said.

According to the criminal complaint, the alleged victim said the contact occurred in April 2013 at Silker's residence, when she told him her knee was sore. According to the complaint, Silker offered to rub her leg; the girl declined, but said Silker kept insisting and began to get mad, so she laid on her stomach on a bed. The girl told investigators that Silker then touched her genital area multiple times, though she told him to stop.

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