Former Trail of Terror supervisor faces criminal sexual conduct charges involving 15-year-old girl

A former Trail of Terror supervisor faces multiple criminal sexual conduct charges stemming from a relationship he had with a 15-year-old girl beginning in 2013.

According to the criminal complaint, 31-year-old Bryan E. Ellinger, from Shakopee, faces three different counts of criminal sexual conduct (first-degree penetration or contact with an underage victim, third-degree victim was mentally impaired/helpless, and criminal sexual conduct in the third degree). If convicted, Ellinger could face a maximum sentence of 32 years in prison.

Ellinger is currently in custody at the Scott County Jail.

Court records state, on Nov. 13, 2020, an officer with the Shakopee Police Department responded to a sexual assault complaint. The victim told the officer that she used to work for Trail of Terror back in 2013, when she was 15 years old. At that time, she said she had a crush on her then-24-year-old supervisor, identified as Ellinger.

The victim told police she was in a sexual relationship with Ellinger for "two to four months" while she was 15, adding that it was her first sexual relationship.

She explained that during the last week of October 2013, she told Ellinger she thought he was attractive and he kissed her. Then, the complaint states about a week later, the victim and Ellinger had intercourse for the first time. The victim said Ellinger knew her age at the time, but added that Ellinger had a history of sexual relationships with other young females that worked at Trail of Terror, and she suspected that Ellinger didn’t care about age.

The victim told authorities of one occurrence that happened the weekend after Halloween in 2013. She ended up going to a hotel with Ellinger and several of his friends. She claims that, among many different occasions in which Ellinger and the victim had sexual contact in some way, Ellinger and his friend provided the victim with alcohol and showed her pornography. According to the complaint, she became so intoxicated that she passed out on the hotel room bed. Sometime during the night, she woke up lying on her side with Ellinger having sexual intercourse with her. She also told police she noticed people watching at that time across the room. She passed out again soon after.

The next morning, the victim said she woke up and felt "disgusted and embarrassed" with what happened the night before. However, she said she still had feelings for Ellinger, which she later attributed (as an adult) to her inexperience. The victim stated the sexual relations she had with Ellinger continued up until February 2014, where the victim eventually cut off all communication with Ellinger for the next seven years.

Then, in September 2020, Ellinger reached out to the victim in a series of Snapchat messages. Initially, the victim did not know it was Ellinger’s account until she accepted him as a friend on the app. The criminal complaint shows Ellinger admitting to the sexual assault and underage relationship in the messages. The victim took photos of the conversations to preserve them for police.

When asked by detectives why he would provide alcohol to someone who is underage, Ellinger replied, "Come on, teenagers like to party." He also said he didn’t remember much of the night with the hotel, and further stated that he "could not recall anything that occurred in the hotel room." Ellinger did not seem to care about the age of the victim at the time of the assault, according to the complaint. He also admitted to sending nude images of himself to the victim.

Ellinger informed the detective that he has a prior sex offense that requires him to register as a predatory offender. He was convicted as an adult for failing to register as a predatory sex offender in 2009, about a year prior to him starting work at the Trail of Terror. He worked there until 2019.