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William John Earles

Jury indicts man accused of blackmailing and raping 16-year-old girl in Moorhead

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MOORHEAD - A Clay County grand jury returned an indictment Wednesday against a man who allegedly blackmailed and raped a 16-year-old girl here in July.

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The grand jury returned an indictment against William John Earles for third-degree criminal sexual conduct, fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, felon in possession of a firearm, possession of child pornography by a predatory offender, manufacture of child pornography, engaging in prostitution with a minor under the age of 18 but over the age of 16 and coercion.

Earles, 52, was charged by complaint on Aug. 29 with several similar charges.

The teenage girl told officers Earles raped her. She said he threatened to expose nude pictures of her and a sex video if she didn't clean his house in skimpy costumes.

Earles claims the sexual contact was consensual.

If convicted of either third- or fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, Earles faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment, according to Lt. Tory Jacobson.

Earles has a prior conviction for sex abuse in Clay County, for which he was sentenced in 1998 to a seven-year stint in prison.

Earles will appear next in court Nov. 21.

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