A National Guard recruiter in Bemidji lured a teenage girl and prospective inductee into the armory and sexually assaulted her, according to charges.
Staff Sgt. Ryan F. Rivers, 33, was charged in Beltrami County District Court last week with third-degree criminal sexual conduct. Rivers was jailed and later released on his own recognizance ahead of a court appearance next month.
A Guard spokeswoman said Thursday that Rivers has been relocated and given administrative duties as the Guard conducts its own investigation and helps civilian authorities with theirs.
Rivers’ attorney, Jason Pederson, declined to address the allegations, adding that he has reviewed only the criminal complaint and other preliminary reports, while the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension continues to go over other potential evidence.
According to the criminal complaint:
Blackduck High School alerted the Sheriff’s Office on Feb. 1 that a 17-year-old student was on Snapchat with another 17-year-old girl and Rivers, who raised the proposition of a sexual threesome.
The student told investigators that she went to the armory in Bemidji, where Rivers was to give her a knowledge test and see whether she would be eligible to join the Guard.
Rivers led the girl into a room, locked the door, groped her and engaged in oral sex. He later sent her an explicit photo of himself and suggested they have intercourse.
The other girl in the Snapchat conversation told authorities that the teens knew Rivers through the high school and they went on a field trip with him to Fort Ripley in Crow Wing County last spring.
Investigators met with Rivers last week, and he told them he met the prospective recruit through Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps on Jan. 20. He contended that she talked to him about “things of a sexual nature including that she was the victim of a sexual assault,” the charging document read.
Asked whether he had sex with the girl in the armory, he nodded and was arrested, according to the complaint.