Jury finds Vugteveen 'not guilty' of sexual abuse
SPIRIT LAKE ― A Dickinson County jury has found Lakes area businessman Kevin Vugteveen not guilty of crimes related to sexual abuse allegations levied by a teenaged employee.
Jurors reached their verdict at 9:17 a.m. Friday at the Dickinson County Courthouse in Spirit Lake. They found Vugteveen not guilty of: Count I third-degree sexual abuse, Count II assault with the intent to commit sexual abuse and the lesser-included charge of assault.
"I understand it, but I don't agree with it," Dickinson County Attorney Jon Martin said of the verdict. "But, they're the ones who get to decide."
A third count, lascivious acts with a minor, was dismissed prior to the start of the trial. Jury selection and opening statements began Tuesday, June 5. Jurors received the case at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
The charges were filed for suspected activities that took place during the summer of 2017. Members of the Milford Police Department and deputies with the Dickinson County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant Thursday, Aug. 17, at Vugteveen's Milford business. The investigators filed a criminal complaint that day, based on photographs and witness accounts.
Many of the accusations centered around activity on Aug. 8 of last year. Vugteveen was accused of making sexually-suggestive comments and using his authority to coerce the teenager into a sexual situation. Ultimately, the Dickinson County jury didn't find enough evidence to be convinced the 53-year-old Spirit Lake man inappropriately grabbed, touched or harassed his 15-year-old male employee at the time.
Martin reviewed the initial criminal complaint and filed formal charges on Sept. 5. Vugteveen's attorney, John L. Sandy of Spirit Lake, initially waived his client's right to a speedy trial in the fall of 2017. They changed their request and asked for the speedy trial in a April 5 court filing.