Former Chisago Co. sheriff pleads guilty to criminal sexual conduct
Former Chisago County Sheriff Rick Duncan pleaded guilty to one count of criminal sexual conduct Tuesday, admitting in court that he wrote several “demand letters” that he ultimately used to coerce a woman he knew into having sex with him.
Duncan, wearing a gray suit, appeared on Zoom for the virtual court hearing. He walked through the details of the charges, responding to the prosecutor’s questions in short sentences.
“I’m guilty of the offense of writing the letters [and] having sexual contact with the victim based off those letters,” Duncan said after he was sworn in.
According to the plea deal, Duncan will serve 180 days in jail, though the arrangement allows him to serve that time on work release. He’ll be on supervised probation for up to 15 years and will pay a fine and restitution to his victim.
After the hearing, Duncan’s attorney told 5 INVESTIGATES that his client is “taking responsibility for his actions and regrets the harm he caused.”
The 58-year-old was charged last October with five counts of criminal sexual conduct. The allegations stem from incidents back in 2017, when investigators say Duncan told a woman that he knew they were being “blackmailed.”
According to the criminal complaint, Duncan told the woman that the “blackmailer” wanted the pair to act like they were having an affair.
Over the course of several months, investigators say Duncan used the “demand letters” to force the woman into performing multiple sex acts with him.
The complaint says the woman told law enforcement that during the time period in which she was receiving demanding letters, she felt scared and fearful that she or her family may be harmed or killed. She told investigators she believed Duncan because of their relationship and because “he was the Chisago County Sheriff.”
The alleged scheme is similar to a previous criminal case involving Duncan. In 2020, he was sentenced to probation for the stalking and harassment of a female co-worker from the sheriff’s office.
In that case, Duncan also claimed the pair were being blackmailed by an anonymous third party who signed letters to them as “Control Freak.”
During an internal investigation, Duncan admitted through his attorney that “he alone” authored the letters.
In January of 2023, prosecutors with Chisago County notified Duncan of their intent to seek aggravated sentencing due to the seriousness of the crime, the “particular cruelty” the victim was treated with, the fact that the victim trusted Duncan, the emotional and psychological harm the victim endured, and Duncan’s position as a law enforcement officer.
Duncan will be sentenced on Feb. 16.