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Hubbard County justifies settlement in sexual assault case

A press release issued by Hubbard County attorneys Tuesday indicates an Akeley woman who sued over an alleged sexual assault by a former deputy may have received only a fraction of the $640,000 settlement.

"Two hundred fifty thousand dollars was paid to purchase an annuity" for Kristy Barsch, the release states.

No additional payments were to be made on behalf of the county and Greg Siera, the deputy who resigned under pressure one year ago, the county's press release indicates.

Barsch accused Siera of sexually assaulting her while he was on duty in late 2008. She filed a $2 million lawsuit against the county, asserting her civil rights were violated.

Last week her attorney suggested Barsch may have received as much as $500,000 of the settlement, but refused to indicate what his percent of the settlement amount was.

Scott Anderson, the Minneapolis attorney retained by the Minnesota Counties Insurance Trust to settle the claim on the county's behalf, said in the press release, "I did not believe that the county itself had done anything wrong in this case.

"Mr. Siera came highly recommended when he was originally hired by the county, had no record of discipline and the county had no notice of wrongdoing by Mr. Siera," the attorney said.

But Anderson admitted that when Siera invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to provide in-formation in the case other than his court-ordered DNA, that "complicated the matter. The MCIT felt that there were risks in going forward that made it wise to resolve the matter at this juncture."

The county is responsible for a $2,500 "retained limit" that applies to all claims and is similar to a deductible.

Siera was placed on paid administrative leave when the allegations surfaced and eventually resigned. A special prosecutor did not find sufficient grounds to prosecute the case criminally.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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