June 21, 2018 06:57 PM
A police officer in southern Minnesota has been charged with three counts of criminal sexual conduct. Investigators say the alleged acts happened multiple times over the last two decades.
Authorities with the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office said the investigation into Officer Julio Baez focuses on multiple victims.
Baez, 51, has been a police officer with the Kasson Police Department in Dodge County since 2004.
Reading from a statement on Thursday, Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson said the information is troubling.
"We believe the allegations of criminal sexual conduct began in 1992 and occurred in various counties, including in Olmsted and Dodge County," Torgerson said.
Kasson Police Chief Kent Berghuis said the investigation into Baez began on June 2, when the department received a complaint of misconduct against him.
The same day, Berghuis said Baez didn't clock out after his shift ended at 4 p.m. Officers later found his squad car abandoned near the wastewater treatment facility in Kasson.
Dodge County sheriff's deputies were called in to help look for Baez. They discovered him several hundred yards away from his squad car.
"He had three gunshot wounds that we, at this point, determined were self-inflicted gunshot wounds," said Dodge County Sheriff Scott Rose.
Baez was airlifted to St. Marys hospital where he spent several weeks recovering from the injuries.
Meanwhile, Olmsted County investigators began building their case. Court documents filed Thursday accuse Baez of committing long-term sexual abuse against two family members.
Baez was arrested in Winona on Tuesday, soon after he'd been released from the hospital, according to officials.
Torgerson said within the last few days, more allegations surfaced against the officer.
"At this point, the investigation has also revealed one incident of domestic abuse that occurred while Officer Baez was on duty," Torgerson said. "We believe that incident occurred in 2004 and at the time of that allegation, he was believed to be working for Kasson Police Department."
Berghuis said his department was unaware of the 2004 incident.
"It came, honestly, as quite a shock to me because there's no signs, no anything," Berghuis said. "He's just very personable guy."
Baez's youngest daughter, Veronica, had the same reaction to the charges as she left the Olmsted County Courthouse Thursday.
"I've been living with him my whole life," Veronica Baez said. "I wouldn't still be here if these things were true."
Judge Robert Birnbaum set Baez' bail at $500,000 with conditions.
Berghuis said Baez is currently on paid leave, but said he is "looking at termination" in light of the allegations.
Updated: June 21, 2018 06:57 PM
Created: June 21, 2018 03:57 PM
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