Weather Forecast


New England man sentenced to prison for sex crime

Russell Pearson

A New England mother spoke in court of the impact on her family that Russell Lee Pearson, 54, inflicted with his acts of gross sexual imposition on her son, a then-12-year-old who struggles with a brain injury.

Her son, because of his injury, wasn't quite aware of why his good friend "Rusty" was gone, but he understands what punishment is, she said.

For punishment, the New England man was sentenced to 12 years with the North Dakota Department of Corrections, with five years suspended, followed by 10 years of supervised probation. He was sentenced on three counts of Class AA felony gross sexual imposition.

Pearson's hearing was held Tuesday in the Stark County Courthouse in Dickinson, with Southwest District Judge Zane Anderson presiding. The maximum sentence for a Class AA felony is a life sentence without parole.

Once released, Pearson will have to register as a sex offender and will not be permitted to have contact with minors.

He will also have to complete sex offender treatment as well as substance abuse treatment while incarcerated, Anderson said.

In October, Pearson pleaded guilty to the charges against him with a non-binding sentencing agreement at the end of a three-day trial in Mott. Anderson followed the terms of the agreement.

Pearson was represented by public defender Kevin McCabe. The case was prosecuted by Hettinger County State's Attorney James Gion.

A warrant for his arrest was issued on Oct. 5, 2011, for sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy with a traumatic brain injury.

"What has happened has had a huge impact on our family," the victim's mother said in court, adding that her family trusted "Rusty" and that she wanted to see justice served.

"I'm worried about the future of other children," the New England woman said.

Upon his release, Pearson will also be required to pay all minimum fees, totaling more than $1,600, Anderson said.

Pearson is considered a moderate- to high-risk offender, Anderson said. And his life instability and lack of social support were counts against him.

Pearson had no known history of child molestation in the past and his only criminal record was a DUI in 1989, Anderson said of the things that were factored into Pearson's favor when considering his sentence. He scored well below average on assessment. This case was three counts of gross sexual imposition coming out of one incident, not three separate incidents and not long-standing abuse.

The sentencing hearing wraps up a more than year-long process in which Pearson changed his plea twice, with a jury trial scheduled in May, before going to trial in October. He then changed his plea on the last day of his three-day trial before the jury deliberated. He could not change his plea after that.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
(701) 456-1206