Jury acquits Minn. priest accused of molesting girls

Published 10:29 am Tuesday, June 21, 2016

HIBBING — A jury on Monday acquitted a Minnesota priest accused of molesting four girls.

After closing arguments, jurors deliberated about two hours before finding Brian Lederer, 30, not guilty on all counts.

Lederer was facing four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, all felonies. He was arrested and charged in May 2015, and then placed on administrative leave by the Diocese of Duluth.

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The alleged incidents happened during the 2014-15 school year after hours at Assumption Catholic School in Hibbing, Minnesota. Prosecutors said another incident happened at a home and others occurred on a school bus. The four girls ranged in age from 10 to 13 at the time of the alleged incidents.

Lederer, who was the lone witness for the defense, took the stand Friday to deny the allegations. He had no comment after his acquittal. The girls and their parents were not present when the verdict was read.

Defense attorney Peter Wold said the jury reached the right verdict given the evidence, which he said “did not hang well” in this case.