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Halstad mayor arrested on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct

HALSTAD, Minn. – The city’s mayor here is in jail after being arrested Monday on allegations of criminal sexual conduct, terroristic and domestic abuse.

Norman County Sheriff Jeremy Thornton said Steve Sortland was arrested following a traffic stop at about 4:35 p.m. Monday in the 100 block of Third Street East in Halstad.

Thornton said he is being held on suspicion of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and making terroristic threats, both felonies, and suspicion of misdemeanor domestic assault.

“I think everybody in town is floored,” said Halstad City Council member Renae Horning, who serves with Sortland. “I never would have thought this – it’s perplexing.”

Horning said she considers the conduct alleged in the arrest to be out of character for Sortland, who she said is divorced, with three boys still living at home.

The City Council plans to hold a special meeting with the city attorney to hand over leadership to Halstad’s vice mayor, Shane Carlson, said Horning, who said she didn’t know when it will be held.

Horning said she anticipates the transfer of duties to the vice mayor could be a long-term arrangement.

Thornton said his office received a report May 23 alleging the criminal conduct that prompted Sortland’s arrest but declined to provide further details about the allegations.

The sheriff said he expects formal criminal charges to be filed against Sortland today.

Sortland was being held Tuesday at the Northwest Regional Corrections Center in Crookston and is expected to make his first court appearance today. Bail had not yet been set.

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