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Police say teen was coerced by Moorhead man into cleaning in skimpy outfits

A 52-year-old Moorhead man allegedly blackmailed a 16-year-old girl, threatening to expose her nude pictures and a sex video if she didn't clean his house in skimpy costumes, court records show.

According to a complaint filed Monday in Clay County District Court, William John Earles is also accused of raping the girl in July.

She told officers Earles had threatened to divulge the video and photos if she didn't clean his home while wearing a variety of outfits including a French maid costume and a customized purple football jersey.

In court records, police say Earles told officers the sexual contact was consensual. He said he considered the teenager a prostitute because he paid her $30 to "clean the house" once a week over roughly a year, texting her to arrange the meetings and using the phrase "clean the house" as a code message meaning he wanted sexual contact.

She would let him massage her, he said, and contends he secretly recorded videos that would back his claims. The age of sexual consent in Minnesota is 16.

The teenager, who was 16 when the abuse is reported to have started but is now 17, told police she tried to fight off Earles and repeatedly told him "no" as he is alleged to have molested her during the massages.

She also said she agreed to come to his home in July to clean only because he'd said he wouldn't be there. She claims Earles wouldn't let her leave, then held her down and raped her before she kicked herself free.

Earles faces five charges: criminal sexual conduct in the third and fourth degrees, soliciting an underage prostitute, coercion and possessing a firearm as a felon. He has a prior conviction for sex abuse in Clay County, for which he was sentenced in 1998 to a seven-year stint in prison.

Of the charges, soliciting a juvenile prostitute would carry the longest maximum prison term if he were convicted, at 20 years.

The allegations came to light after the alleged victim - the girlfriend of an acquaintance of Earles - was transported to Sanford Health in Fargo on Sunday after talking about possibly hurting herself.

The boyfriend's relationship with Earles isn't being disclosed to avoid identifying the alleged victim, as The Forum typically does not identify the accusers in cases of sexual assault.

According to the complaint, the boyfriend told police he confronted Earles via phone about the allegations on Sunday. Earles asked the boyfriend not to call police because he didn't want to go back to prison.

Earles was transported to the Clay County Jail on Tuesday after Fargo police detained him Sunday as he was golfing at Rose Creek. He was taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation before being taken to the Cass County Jail.

He later told police he'd never forced the girl to do anything and denied having sex with her, but he did admit he blackmailed her with the nude photos he found on the boyfriend's phone and with a video of the couple having sex that he secretly recorded, police allege in court records.

Executing a search at his home, Moorhead police say they found a pistol, small video cameras, the jersey, the maid outfit and numerous storage devices in his bedroom, according to the complaint. One of the CDs seized was titled "The Last Massage," police say. None of the media storage devices have been examined yet.