Published October 16 2012
Judge refuses to change accused rapist's bail
In terse remarks directed at prosecutor Heidi Davies, Judge Lisa Borgen said it appeared the county attorney’s office was trying to use the hearing with media present to pressure her into changing the conditions for Richard Lee Haaland Jr., 46, who is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with the Sept. 6 incident.
At the request of Haaland’s attorney, Borgen also put a gag order on attorneys for both sides, saying speaking with the media about the case is “inappropriate” given its serious nature and the need to protect the alleged victim’s privacy.
Borgen’s comments appeared to be directed at previous statements made by Assistant County Attorney Pam Harris, who publicly expressed strong disappointment with the amount of bail set for Haaland by Borgen on Sept. 26.
Harris had requested $1 million bail, telling a Forum reporter afterward that Haaland is a flight risk and has a lot of financial ability to flee.
“I don’t view this as a typical case,” she said.
Borgen set conditions of release for Haaland at $500,000 bail without conditions or $100,000 bail with conditions, including that he have no contact with the victim, submit to random drug testing and not leave Minnesota without written court approval. Haaland posted $100,000 bond through a bail bond company.
Davies, chief assistant county attorney, asked Borgen on Tuesday to modify the conditions to allow electronic GPS monitoring of Haaland’s whereabouts. Defense attorney Justin Bruntjen objected, saying Haaland showed up for court, has been in constant contact with his attorney and hasn’t been charged with a new crime.
Haaland, who has a prior rape conviction in Becker County, also surrendered his passport as ordered.
“He’s followed everything asked of him,” Bruntjen said.
Davies said her request was based on an investigation into offenses that occurred in Fargo that may generate other charges in Cass County, but she didn’t want to discuss the ongoing investigation in front of the reporters present.
Borgen allowed the attorneys to discuss it privately with her at the bench. When it was over, Davies returned to the prosecutor’s table and said Haaland is being investigated for intrusion into the privacy of others, but the matter has yet to be referred to Cass County prosecutors.
Borgen said the court “is well aware the county attorney’s office was dissatisfied” with the conditions she set, but added that until she hears “anything else on the record of substance,” she’s not going to modify the conditions.
Haaland’s attorney asked that his next court hearing be set for January. Borgen scheduled it for Dec. 10, saying she didn’t want the case to drag out.
“We’re going to try this thing ASAP,” she said.
According to court documents, Haaland’s alleged victim told police she was sexually assaulted in the parking lot of her apartment building in the 100 block of Fifth Street South between 3 and 4 a.m. on Sept. 6.
The 31-year-old woman suffered a broken jaw from being punched in the face multiple times, requiring surgery to repair it, court documents state.
Police released video surveillance footage that showed a man dressed in black in the area where the assault occurred. Based on tips from the public and further investigation, police arrested Haaland on
Sept. 21 and executed a search warrant at his north Fargo home.
Among the items found was a bag containing $40,000 in cash and Haaland’s passport, according to a search warrant affidavit.
Haaland denied any involvement, the affidavit states.
Haaland was convicted in 1984 of raping a woman who was out for a walk in Becker County. He was sentenced to 2½ years in prison in that case. He also was sentenced in 1993 to more than eight years in federal prison on charges related to distributing and growing marijuana.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528