EXCLUSIVE: Alleged Rape Victim Comes Forward to Share Her Story - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

EXCLUSIVE: Alleged Rape Victim Comes Forward to Share Her Story

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An alleged rape victim is sharing her side of the story, saying she was brutally assaulted by Halstad, Minn., mayor Steve Sortland.

Sortland was in court Wednesday, two days after being arrested. He is facing three counts of criminal sexual conduct and is accused of making terroristic threats towards one of his alleged victims.

Bail was set at $7500 cash or $75,000 bond. He was also ordered to have no contact with his victims.

Given the nature of the crime, Valley News Live normally does not use victims' names or put them on camera, but one was at the hearing, and she approached us wanting to tell her side of what happened.

"When other victims started stepping forward, and none of them were strong enough to step up, I did. And now they are. And I don't have to do it alone," says alleged rape victim Kari Caudill-Robertson.

Through tears and fear, Caudill-Robertson is willingly stepping forward to share her side of the story hoping it does not go unheard. She alleges she was brutally raped by Sortland.

"I didn't know if I should come forward or not at first because he's the mayor of the town, and he's respected," she says.

Caudill-Robertson told us she had been in a relationship with Sortland for the past seven months, but things took a turn, so she wanted to end it.

But she says, "I came back to the house...and he raped me."

Distraught by what had taken place, she did not know what to do next, explaining, "As soon as it was done, I got up, and I ran out of the room. I took of the clothes that I had on still, changed and I ran for safety."

A criminal complaint we obtained from Norman County says she ran to a gas station. That is where a deputy found her crying and took her to the hospital.

"The injuries were severe enough where doctors had to treat me and give me medication for pain and bleeding," explains Caudill-Robertson.

But there is something worse than the physical pain for her. "There's a part of me that's closed off, that nobody will ever get to experience again because I'll never be able to let anybody in or love anybody cause I truly loved him."

Even through the torment, she says this goes much deeper, referring to another alleged victim. "She had to deal with a lot more heinous things than I ever had to, for longer than I ever did."

Caudill-Robertson says she hopes by coming forward, that alleged victim and one more will get the justice they deserve.

"I hope she keeps her strength and stands tall and let's her voice be heard cause as a team we can do it," she says.

Sortland remains in the Norman County Jail in Crookston.

We did approach his family members, who said they wanted to wait and make comments, if the case went to trial.

Be sure to look for much more of the exclusive interview.

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