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Published February 13 2012

Sex offender sentenced for assaulting Fargo girlfriend

FARGO – A registered sex offender accused of punching his Fargo girlfriend in the face, hitting her in the head with a flood lamp and choking her last April pleaded guilty to a reduced charge Monday after the victim recanted her statement, his public defender said.

Michael Dumont-Newago, 32, of Minneapolis, pleaded guilty to Class A misdemeanor assault in Cass County District Court. Judge Wade Webb sentenced him to a suspended 360-day jail term and 11 days already served.

Dumont-Newago also was ordered to have no contact with the victim for one year, prosecutor Tracy Peters said.

Dumont-Newago still faces a burglary charge in Cass County for allegedly breaking into a home on Jan. 11 and stealing a TV, games and other items.

The homeowner told police he believes Dumont-Newago’s girlfriend – the same woman involved in the assault less than nine months earlier – was his accomplice in the burglary, distracting the homeowner away from the home while Dumont-Newago broke in, the police report states.

The girlfriend hasn’t been charged in connection with the burglary.

Dumont-Newago’s public defender in the assault case, Monty Mertz, said the woman recanted her earlier statement to police, and the state couldn’t find her to subpoena her.

According to the police report, the officer who spoke to the woman at the scene observed a bleeding cut on her forehead, blood all over her sweatshirt and bruising around her neck.

Mertz said Dumont-Newago maintained the version of events he initially told police, in which he denied hitting the woman and said her injuries were from him pushing her and her falling into a table.

“He just wanted to get it over with,” Mertz said of the plea agreement.

Dumont-Newago failed to appear at a July hearing, prompting a warrant for his arrest. He appeared in The Forum’s Fugitive Focus feature on Aug. 15.

On Dec. 28, Dumont-Newago was arrested on a warrant in Hennepin County, Minn., online court records show. He now awaits a March 5 jury trial there on a felony charge of failing to register as a predatory offender.

The registration requirement stems from a 2000 conviction for third-degree criminal sexual conduct in Beltrami County, Minn. A judge sentenced Dumont-Newago to 23 months in prison and 15 years of probation.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528