University medical student and former Boy Scout troop leader Alan Michael Scott pled guilty Monday to one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct for molesting a minor in his scout troop.
Scott, 26, faced three charges stemming from numerous incidents of alleged sexual misconduct with the troop member at a camp in northern Minnesota and at Scott’s residence between 1995 and 1997.
In return for the guilty plea, two of the charges were dropped.
Scott now faces a maximum of one year in a non-prison facility such as a workhouse, defense attorney Tina Appleby said.
Prosecuting attorney Paul Young said a motion was filed to introduce other instances of misconduct into the trial. He said three different individuals — one minor and two adults — planned to testify that Scott also touched them inappropriately.
Charges could be brought for those incidents in the future if enough criminal evidence arises.
After Hennepin County Judge Thomas H. Carey announced that a plea was offered, Scott stoically took the witness stand and admitted that he knew the victim, had substantial sexual contact with the victim before July 13, 1997, and that he knew the victim was under age 16.
Members of the victim’s family said they had no interest in making any comment. The victim was present when Scott took the stand. Scott was not available for comment.
Scott’s status as a medical student and employee at Fairview-University Hospital are still in question.
“When we get a chance to review the plea agreement, we will evaluate his status and decide on appropriate action,” said Keith Dunder, counsel for the Academic Health Center.
Young said that it was a very appropriate outcome for Hennepin County. He also said it is very common for defendants to wait until trial to change a plea.
“They try to get all the time and protection the law will allow,” Young said.
Members of the jury, who never actually heard any of the proceedings, fidgeted in the hallway during Scott’s change of plea. After the hearing concluded, Judge Carey told them the trial was over.
Scheduled to begin Oct. 26, the attorneys spent two days selecting the jury and another hearing pre-trial motions.
Appleby said her client decided to plea-bargain Monday because the consequences of going to trial were great.
“Had the jury returned a verdict of guilty, he would have gone to prison,” Appleby said. “It was one person’s word against another’s. I don’t know how the jury would have found.”
Juries tend to be sympathetic toward victims, she said, which also hastened the change in plea.
Sitting at the back of the nearly vacant courtroom, Steve Supper waited for the start of the trial in support the victim. He said he was a friend of the 17-year-old victim through a 12-step recovery program. Supper said the victim has participated in the program since the incident.
“He (the victim) has been doing good,” Supper said. “He just wants to get it done and over with.”
While he was there to support the victim, Supper also talked about Scott.
“I could sense when he was up (on the stand), he was in a lot of pain,” he said. “As long as he accepted his responsibility, I believe in giving people a second chance.”
Scott is scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 31.