A Coon Rapids man pleaded guilty May 5 to stalking a 12-year-old boy at the Andover YMCA with sexual intent.
After allegedly filming boys changing in YMCA locker rooms, Robert Dennis Minor, 54, faces eight charges: one count of stalking, one count of using minors to create pornographic work, five counts of possessing pornography and one count of interfering with privacy.
Minor waived his right to a jury trial because legal issues, not facts, are disputed, according to Minor’s defense attorney, Kelly Keegan. Legal issues are better decided by a judge than a jury, she said.
Before a bench trial in front of Anoka County District Judge Jonathan Jasper, Minor pleaded guilty to stalking, but maintained “not guilty” pleas for the remaining seven counts.
“Mr. Minor would like to take responsibility,” Keegan said in an interview. “This isn’t some case where he’s going, ‘Oh, I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ That’s not the situation here.” Some charges are duplicated or unfounded, she said.
In advance communication, counsel agreed to a paper trial. Most of their arguments will be submitted to the judge in writing, including closing arguments.
The prosecution did call three witnesses Monday: two detectives with the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office and a surprise witness subpoenaed over the lunch hour, Minor’s mother, Alice, 81.
Detective Patrick O’Hara, specially trained in digital forensics, identified exhibits presented by the prosecution, which included a wristwatch with recording capabilities, a computer cord, photos and videos.
O’Hara said he was called to Minor’s home March 2, 2013, to perform a search warrant.
According to the criminal complaint, a 12-year-old boy told police Feb. 26, 2013, that he saw an adult man hold a watch over a partition in a changing area at the Andover YMCA two days earlier.
After reviewing YMCA security footage, police identified Minor as a suspect in the crime, the complaint states.
O’Hara said he found a wristwatch in Minor’s basement with a cord that plugged into a computer. No evidence was discovered on the watch, according to the detective.
The same day, a second search warrant was issued to obtain Minor’s computer, a hard drive and a flash drive.
A search of the hardware revealed thousands of pornographic images divided into hundreds of folders, which were labeled with names of sexual acts, male names and more, O’Hara said.
He did not go through every folder, but found several videos that looked to be produced by the watch. They featured several boys, later identified and determined to be under age 12, changing in YMCA locker rooms in Andover and Coon Rapids. There were also still images that appeared to be taken from the videos and altered to show the naked children and their genitals more closely, according to O’Hara. Several pornographic videos that O’Hara had seen in other investigations were also discovered, he said.
Files on the hard drive dated back to 2010. The videos in the locker rooms were from 2012, O’Hara said.
Keegan questioned whether Minor was the only one who used the computer and whether he possessed the hard drive in 2010.
She pointed out that according to police reports, Minor’s adult son James was staying in the home when the search warrant was executed. She also asked questions about how some of the videos were duplicated and many of the photos were extracted from those same videos.
Detective Justin Bloch spoke about monitoring Minor’s phone calls from jail. A conversation between Minor and his mother led law enforcement to a child Minor mentored, a child whose name matched one of the video titles.
Minor’s mother, Alice, testified that none of her 19 grandchildren, including Minor’s two children, used her son’s computer in the basement.
The defense did not call any witnesses.
The trial wrapped up in one day, but it is far from over. Attorneys will submit their closing arguments to the judge in the next several weeks, and he will review the evidence before making a decision.
Minor will be sentenced Sept. 17, 2014.
Minor faces an additional charge in Hennepin County for allegedly filming boys at a hockey game at Mariucci Arena and a boy urinating in a restroom. A plea hearing is set for May 23.
Olivia Koester is at firstname.lastname@example.org