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Beulah cop's admission of sexual contact with teen won't be suppressed

BISMARCK — With about a week to trial, a former Beulah police officer won't have his statements suppressed from an interview with investigators in which he admitted to sexual contact with a teenager.

Dustin Pekas, 36, was Beulah's lead police officer at the time of the interview in mid-September. He sought to suppress his statements to two North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents up until he requested counsel, alleging the interview was custodial.

Prosecutor Ladd Erickson previously agreed to omit from his case Pekas' jail phone call with his wife and his interview statements after invoking counsel.

South Central District Judge Bruce Romanick ruled Thursday that the interview was noncustodial, also referencing Pekas' affirmative statements to BCI Agent Lindsay Wold's explanation of his rights.

"The tenor of the interview was not a domineering situation, but ... more as equals discussing a delicate matter amongst themselves," Romanick wrote.

Pekas testified last week at a hearing in Mandan that he felt he was made to go to the Beulah city attorney's law office when Beulah Police Chief Frank Senn called him there for the interview.

He added he felt he would have been fired if he did not cooperate. Following his admissions made in the interview, Wold testified she arrested Pekas, who was on duty at the time.

Pekas is charged with felony sexual assault. Soon after his charging, Senn fired him. His peace officer's license also has been revoked. He had been with the Beulah Police Department for about five years.

His 12-person felony jury trial begins Jan. 4 at the Mercer County Courthouse in Stanton.