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Dave Roepke, Published September 08 2010

Man charged in assault on MS sufferer

A 49-year-old accused of raping a multiple sclerosis sufferer at a public housing complex in Fargo was also a resident, according to the charges filed on Tuesday.

Todd William Naatus was charged in Cass County District Court on Tuesday with gross sexual imposition. Bail was set at $100,000 during his first court appearance.

The alleged victim of the sexual assault told police a naked man entered her apartment about 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, according to a report filed with the charge and information police released on Friday.

She told police the naked man forced himself on her and had sex with her, according to court records. The police report filed with the charges said the alleged victim has severe multiple sclerosis.

The woman lives at New Horizons Manor, a high-rise at 2525 Broadway for disabled people owned by the Fargo Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

Naatus is also a resident at New Horizons. Investigators say in court records he admitted to the allegations in an interview with his legal guardian, a social worker and the director of Community Living Services, a nonprofit that works with the disabled.

Lynn Fundingsland, the HRA’s executive director, said Naatus was provided 24-hour care by Community Living Services. Video recordings show Naatus was out of his apartment for four minutes, he said.

Fundingsland said he’s unaware of any prior allegations of sexual assault in an HRA-owned building.

“To my recollection, this is a first for us,” he said.

Fundingsland said background checks are done on residents of HRA facilities, and Naatus passed a check of his record.

Jim Berglie, the director of Community Living Services, was out of the office Tuesday. A request for comment about the security procedures of the nonprofit wasn’t returned.

The gross sexual imposition charge was filed as a Class AA felony. A conviction would carry a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison and five years of supervised probation.

Patrick O’Day, an attorney representing Naatus, said he had no comment on the case. A phone message left for Naatus at the Cass County Jail wasn’t returned.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535