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Charges Dropped Against Halstad Mayor - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Charges Dropped Against Halstad Mayor

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UPDATED: DECEMBER 23

After months of accusations and court appearances, all charges have been dropped against Halstad Mayor Steve Sortland.  The Norman County Court Administrator's office tells Valley News Live that County Attorney James Brue filed a dismissal on Friday, December 20.

In June, Sortland plead not guilty to two counts of criminal sexual conduct. His former girlfriend accused him of rape after she refused to do sexual acts.

Sortland filed a restraining order against her after he said the woman was confronting his kids and telling them details of the alleged rape.

Sortland is currently on a leave of absence, but has requested for that leave to be canceled. He will be back to his mayoral duties after the next city council meeting.

UPDATED: JUNE 12 5:45 p.m.

Halstad Mayor Steve Sortland made his second appearance in court Wednesday morning, two days after presenting a letter to the city council saying he was taking a leave of absence.

Sortland is accused of pushing alleged victim Kari Robertson to do sexual acts after she refused.

After meeting with his attorney, Sortland walked quietly into the courtroom Wednesday. Once his hearing started, his attorney said Sortland pleaded "not guilty" to all charges.

A few other details were also discussed.

Under the conditions of Sortland's release, he is not allowed to leave Minnesota. But because his attorney's office is in Grand Forks, he has a son receiving specialized medical care in Fargo and most of his family lives in Valley City, the judge permitted him to travel to North Dakota as well.

Next, while on bond, Sortland is not supposed to have alcohol or drugs and is subject to random testing. He is also not supposed to be allowed in places where alcohol is being served, but because he is unemployed and has a job opportunity at a place that serves alcohol, the judge said it would be okay.

The judge also granted a harassment restraining order. Once Valley News Live received a copy of the restraining order, we found out that Sortland filed it against Robertson.

In his petition, he said that Robertson had been confronting his children and had been discussing the sexual acts that took place during the alleged rape.

The restraining order is good for two years. It says Robertson is not allowed within a hundred feet of two of Sortland's residences, and she must stay away from his children's schools.

We tried to talk to Sortland outside the courthouse, but he had no comment. Robertson, not appearing in court, also had no other statements to make even though she came forward to Valley News Live to tell her side of the story after Sortland's first court appearance.

There will be a telephone conference in late July to set up further court appearances.

As for any other alleged victims involved, the Norman County Sheriff says there is still an on-going investigation.

JUNE 10 UPDATE

The mayor of Halstad, Minnesota, is taking a leave of absence after being accused of rape. Steve Sortland says he's doing it to protect the good name of the city.

He also says he will resume his role as mayor as soon as his legal issue is completed. 

Sortland is charged with two counts of criminal sexual assault.

ORIGINAL STORY

A small Minnesota town's mayor is sitting behind bars. Halstad's mayor Steve Sortland was arrested Monday afternoon after the Norman County Sheriff's Office received complaints of terroristic threats and criminal sexual conduct, both of which are felonies.

Long-time council member Renea Horning says this came out of nowhere. She says Sortland is in his second term as mayor, and, as far as she is concerned, he's done a great job and people in town like him.

The Norman County Sheriff says the first complaint of criminal sexual conduct came in on May 23rd. Then on May 26th the complaint of terroristic threats came in. But they waited until yesterday afternoon to make the arrest because they say Sortland was out of town for the holiday weekend. An officer waited on the edge of town and pulled him over before he made it home.

Meanwhile, council members are sticking up for him.

Council Member, Renea Horning, says, "I'm hoping that all the allegations against Steve can be dropped or come to an agreement because this is a bad deal for Steve and for our city."

Halstad's vice mayor is Shane Carlson, who will have to call a special council meeting to discuss where the city goes from here. That meeting is expected to happen sometime this week.

Sortland is scheduled to appear in Norman County court at 9 A.M. Wednesday morning.

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