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Judge acquits Fargo man charged with sexual assault

FARGO — Garlee Sumo was 19 years old when he was charged earlier this year with a Class AA felony count of gross sexual imposition, a charge that carries a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years in prison.

Now, that charge, along with the case itself, has gone away after Cass County District Judge John Irby ruled halfway through Sumo's jury trial this week that evidence presented by the prosecution did not support the charge that Sumo faced and an order of acquittal was filed.

The acquittal cannot be appealed, according to Sumo's attorney, Mark Beauchene, who sought the acquittal after the prosecution rested its case in the trial that started Tuesday morning.

Charging papers claimed Sumo forced a girl who was 16 or 17 to touch his penis during an incident reported to police in April.

The girl told investigators Sumo forced his hand down her pants and penetrated her vagina with his fingers before she was able to flee his home and call 911.

The girl told investigators the incident happened after she went to Sumo's home with a friend who later left, leaving the girl alone with Sumo.

Beauchene said that a judge granting an acquittal during the course of a trial, as part of what's called a Rule 29 motion, is unusual, but he's seen it happen before.

Prosecutor Reid Brady said Friday, Aug. 24, that the judge provided a thorough explanation for his decision "and we have to respect that."

He added that another case remains pending against Sumo in Cass County District Court, a Class A misdemeanor charge of sexual assault of someone between 15 and 18 involving a different alleged victim.

Sumo remained in the Cass County Jail Friday afternoon, where he was being held on a Clay County warrant, according to the Cass County Jail.

Dave Olson
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