A 33-year-old Burnsville man is accused of sexually assaulting a teen girl after luring her to his home by offering to make her a model, according to charges filed in Dakota County District Court.

Eric James Rutherford is charged with one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. If he is convicted, state sentencing guidelines call for a four-year prison sentence.

According to a criminal complaint filed Monday, Rutherford contacted the alleged victim via Facebook in mid-February. He told her “she could become a model if she came to his residence to take some photos.” The victim was reluctant until Rutherford agreed to meet her parents at their home in Minneapolis. That meeting happened on Feb. 19, and Rutherford arranged to have a “security guard” pick up the girl for a photo shoot.

The guard, who turned out to be Rutherford’s brother, picked her up at 9:30 p.m. Feb. 22 and took her to Burnsville. She told police that Rutherford tried to get her to drink alcohol or eat some food but she declined.

After Rutherford took photos, he gave her a glass of water, she told police.

“After drinking the water, she began to feel dizzy and see stars,” the complaint said.

The victim sent a text to her father saying she felt uncomfortable with the photo shoot. She went into the bathroom to change clothes and Rutherford entered without knocking. He put his hand in her underwear and touched her three times, the complaint said.

The victim also said Rutherford threatened to harm her when she told him to stop. The girl was dropped off at her home at 3:30 a.m. the next morning, the ­complaint said.

A sexual assault exam was not done because the girl had showered before calling police. Both she and her father picked Rutherford out of a photo lineup. The father also said that while the victim was still at the photo shoot, he and Rutherford “had an exchange with Rutherford where he apologized for touching the victim,” the complaint said.

Rutherford told a reporter from WCCO-TV, Channel 4, that he didn’t drug or hurt the alleged victim.

“I never touched her,” he said.

A man who answered the phone at the number listed for Rutherford on Tuesday told the caller that it was the wrong number.

Rutherford was convicted in Ramsey County of gross-misdemeanor criminal sexual conduct in April 2013. He served 150 days in jail and was given two years of probation.


Pat Pheifer • 952-746-3284