Weather Forecast


New England man enters guilty plea to sex crimes

A New England man set to go to trial Wednesday for three counts of gross sexual imposition accepted a plea bargain Monday at the Stark County Courthouse, attorneys said. The agreement reduces the charges from Class AA felonies to Class A felonies.

Russell Pearson, 54, pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual acts with a 15-year-old boy from New England on Oct. 2. He was set to accept the plea bargain May 8 but changed his mind, his attorney, Kevin McCabe, previously told The Dickinson Press.

Pearson was set to have a three-day jury trial, but McCabe asked Hettinger County State's Attorney James Gion on Friday if the bargain was still available.

After a long discussion with the victim's family members, Gion confirmed that it was still available, and Pearson told District Judge Zane Anderson he would plead guilty if the charges were reduced.

A presentencing investigation was filed Wednesday. Anderson accepted the conditional plea, meaning he can still reject it. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 24 at the Stark County Courthouse.

A Class AA felony carries a punishment of life imprisonment while a Class A felony carries a maximum of 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.