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Bemidji woman, 73, charged with felony sex crime

A 73-year-old Bemidji woman is accused of felony criminal sexual conduct with a 6-year-old autistic boy.

Janet Verjean Kern pleaded not guilty Aug. 7 in Beltrami County District to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim who is mentally impaired or helpless.

According to the criminal complaint, the boy reported that Kern had touched him inappropriately while she was not wearing clothing or underwear.

The boy was with Kern on May 15 when he was found nude from the waist down, according to court documents. Kern was covering her lower body with a blanket and said she was feeling sick.

She later told investigators that the boy needed a change of pants, according to court documents. While helping him do so, Kern said, she coughed and experienced urinary incontinency, so she removed her own pants and undergarments to change them as well.