Prosecutor dropping charge against man linked to alleged gang rape of 11-year-old in Bemidji

Seven months after an 11-year-old girl was allegedly gang raped in Bemidji, prosecutors say they’ll dismiss the lone charge filed in connection to the case.

Beltrami County Attorney David Hanson announced the development on Tuesday, citing a “lack of evidence necessary to prove this case” against Oscar Ernesto Luna. It came about 40 minutes after the latest hearing in Luna’s case.

The Texas man, now 23, was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct four days after police responded to the emergency department in late September and talked to the victim. The girl said she’d been staying with a relative who made her get into a vehicle, and men then put a bag over her head, brought her to a home, tied her up and sexually assaulted her.

According to Hanson, police found 11 men in addition to Luna inside the home when they searched it, and the 11 were all foreign nationals. Police previously noted several immigrants without legal status were found but “not immediately identified as suspects,” and none of them were ever charged.

Hanson’s announcement indicates that’s because their DNA wasn’t found on the girl.

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“The (Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) ran the DNA profiles of all the men against the DNA found on (the young girl’s) underwear and excluded all of them as a match. Law enforcement also processed the scene and the car that the girl had allegedly been forced into for DNA; the BCA was unable to locate the girl’s DNA at the scene or in the car,” Hanson said.

The prosecutor added that police also talked to people familiar with the case but the statements and physical evidence didn’t match what the girl told police.

“To be clear, there is little doubt that the young girl was sexually assaulted – the medical evidence from her (sexual assault) exam supports that she was sexually assaulted,” Hanson said.

However, because of the lack of evidence, Hanson says his office is unable to move forward with the case against Luna, although he noted Luna admitted that drugs found at the scene were his and will plead guilty to a third-degree controlled substance charge. When that is resolved, he’ll be released to his warrants in Hennepin County.

“This case involves a little girl who experienced an unthinkable trauma, and for the prosecution to conclude with an outcome of no charges is itself another trauma – both for the victim and for all of the individuals who have put their heart and souls into this case,” Hanson’s statement added.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reached out to Bemidji police but the chief declined comment.