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Published September 17 2012

Fargo man accused of raping 16-year-old girl pleads guilty to lesser charge

FARGO – A 26-year-old Fargo man who was accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in June outside an African market pleaded guilty Monday to a less severe charge.

Bashir Abdi Noor had faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted of the Class AA felony gross sexual imposition charge initially filed against him in connection with the June 2 incident.

He pleaded guilty Monday to solicitation of a minor, a Class C felony carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

According to the police report, Noor approached the girl after 4 p.m. on June 2 near the Somali Business Center at 122 23rd St., pulled her into a concealed area between the fence and the building and sexually assaulted her there.

The girl escaped and alerted others, who chased Noor, police said. He was arrested a block away.

Prosecutor Leah Viste, an assistant Cass County state’s attorney, said several factors were considered in deciding to amend the charge. She said she believes the resolution “fairly and justly” addresses the matter.

While the victim did not change her story, Viste said, “I think there would have been some potential issues surrounding the force issue.”

“There’s been some Supreme Court case law that has indicated what the level of force needs to be when charging a gross sexual imposition under that section of the statute,” she said. “In this case, there was some degree of evidence, but ultimately the state determined that the solicitation charge also adequately represented the events.”

Judge Steven McCullough ordered a presentence investigation, which is expected to take about 60 days. Noor will be required to register as a sex offender, Viste said.

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