AP NEWS

Bail set at $1 million for St. Charles man, a Byron police officer, accused of criminal sexual conduct

June 22, 2018 GMT

A Kasson police officer is being held on $1 million bail following his arraignment on criminal sexual conduct charges Thursday in Olmsted County District Court.

Julio Baez, 51, of St. Charles, is accused of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. Baez was arrested Tuesday at a Winona motel. He had been released from a Rochester hospital following treatment for apparent self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

The complaint filed in the case alleges that while Baez was living in Byron he sexually abused a female for 11 years, from the time she was 5 until she was 16 years old. The alleged victim said acts by Baez included digital penetration, attempted oral sex and masturbation of Baez.

The second count involves another alleged victim who said she was sexually abused by Baez starting when she was 4, and from ages 18 to 23 when Baez lived in Byron. She said the abuse included digital penetration, sexual intercourse, oral sex and sexual contact.

The complaint states that Baez was in a position of authority over the alleged victims.

The Byron address is important because the charges are filed in Olmsted County, where Byron is located. Investigators have said additional charges could be filed in other area counties.

The charges came to light following an investigation into the apparent self-inflicted gunshot wounds Baez received while on duty as a Kasson police officer on June 2. He did not check in at the end of his shift that day, and was later found wounded about 500 yards from his squad car.

In court Thursday, Christa Groshek, Baez’s attorney, appeared to question the official account of the shooting. “It isn’t clear who shot my client,” she said.

Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem requested $1 million bail in light of the seriousness of the crimes. He also said Baez was a threat to flee, given that he was found and arrested in Winona.

Groshek said, “My client is of good character,” and disputed that he would flee, noting his strong family ties in the area. Baez is a U.S. citizen, Groshek said. She said Baez’s mother, sister and a daughter were in the courtroom. As for the case against him, Groshek said Baez “vehemently denies” the charges.

Judge Robert Birnbaum set unconditional bail at $1 million, and conditional bail at $500,000. Conditions include that Baez be on electronic home monitoring, not leave the state, surrender his passport, and turn in any firearms.

His next court appearance is set for July 6.