A judge has acquitted a Mandan man who was accused of sexually assaulting a woman after offering her a ride to see her mother.
Kelly Haugen, 53, was arrested in September on charges of felony sexual assault and attempted unlawful imprisonment. A woman told police she believed she had been drugged and taken to Haugen’s home. She said she came to as someone was trying to take her to a basement, and she gave a description of the garage from which she escaped as the door was closing, police said. She said she didn’t recall having sex but “felt she had been violated,” an officer testified at Haugen’s preliminary hearing in November.
Police in an affidaivt said Haugen gave the woman a mixed drink then told her that her mother was down the street from a Mandan bar and wanted to see her. She later identified Haugen from a photo lineup, the affidavit says. Haugen denied the allegations during a police interview.
Haugen’s attorney, Lloyd Suhr, asked for dismissal of the case at the preliminary hearing, saying the state had produced no evidence beyond the woman’s “obviously flawed memory.” South Central District Judge Daniel Borgen moved the case forward. The trial started on Feb. 25.
Suhr the next day made a motion for a judgment of acquittal after Assistant Morton County State’s Attorney Chase Lingle rested the state’s case, and Borgen granted the request. The judge in a document filed Monday said he did so “having considered the evidence and testimony, as well as the arguments of counsel.”
“I fully believed my client was innocent,” Suhr told the Tribune. “I think if it had gone to verdict we had an excellent chance of acquittal.”
Lingle did not respond to email or telephone requests for comment.