Ellsworth man pleads guilty to sexual assault
An Ellsworth man pled guilty to third-degree sexual assault last Tuesday in Pierce County Circuit Court.
Dylan M. Berner, 21, will be sentenced at 9:45 a.m., Monday, March 24, on the Class G felony charge. He was initially charged with repeated sexual assault of a child, a Class C felony, but pled guilty to the lesser charge as part of an agreement.
Berner was charged last August relating to an incident in River Falls from 2011.
According to the criminal complaint, River Falls police were notified the previous month of the assault, which allegedly occurred during the city’s annual River Falls Days celebration.
The victim’s mother told police through therapy they deemed the issue was resolved, as it was determined the contact was consensual. Police said, otherwise, as the victim was 13 at the time, and Berner was 18, the age difference made it illegal.
The victim explained the two communicated by phone previously and met for the first time at the River Falls Days parade, held Friday night, and hung around the rest of the celebration weekend. She remembered on that Saturday, she was at her dad’s residence, outside of River Falls, and while he was working, she had sexual contact with Berner multiple times, which continued throughout the weekend.
The victim also said her mother didn’t know about the assaults until six months later and communication with Berner pretty much ended after that weekend. A friend of the victim was also interviewed and confirmed her story.
Berner was interviewed and admitted to having sexual contact with the victim, but was unsure about the number of times that weekend.
Berner has had multiple run-ins with law enforcement over the last five years. According to online court records, he pled guilty to fourth degree sexual assault in 2010, receiving stolen property, burglary, two counts of receiving stolen property and disorderly conduct in 2011, theft and sex with child age 16 or older in 2012, and operating with a suspended license in 2013.