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Rape case goes to trial again

Opening arguments were heard Wednesday morning in the jury trial of a Zumbrota man accused of raping his ex-girlfriend.

Joseph Daniel Carlson, 19, faces one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. He was officially charged in a Goodhue County Court complaint filed July 16.

According to what Assistant Goodhue County Attorney Erin Kuester told the jury of six men and eight women Wednesday morning, Carlson invited the girl -- who was then 17 years old -- to his mother's Pine Island home in July 2012.

"He used his superior strength and size to overpower her," she said.

Kuester then outlined the trial for the jurors, telling them that they would hear testimony from the girl, from her mother and from medical professionals. She said a pediatric doctor and a sexual assault nurse examiner would testify that an injury the girl sustained is "entirely consistent with forced vaginal intercourse," Kuester said.

Kuester asked that the jury find Carlson guilty of both the charges he is facing.

But defense attorney Doug Bayley countered that Carlson did not rape the girl, but that the pair had consensual sex.

"He is surprised and shocked and a little embarrassed to be here," Bayley said of Carlson. "He believes (the girl) gave verbal and physical signs that she ... had consented."

Bayley then asked the jury to call into question possible motives that the witnesses who will testify during the trial could have.

"Ask if (the girl) would be hesitant to admit that she had sex with an ex-boyfriend," he said.

Bayley then told jurors that Carlson had enlisted with the Army Reserves, but that his military career had been put on hold due to the charges. He said Carlson is currently working, volunteers and is active in his church.

Bayley ended his opening arguments by asking that the jury do "the only possible correct thing" and find Carlson not guilty on all counts.

This is the second time Carlson's case has come before a jury. In January, a jury of two women and 10 men deliberated for about seven hours after that weeklong trial. They failed to come to a unanimous decision and a mistrial was declared.

Kuester said in January that it is "unusual for sure" to have a mistrial.

The current trial began Monday morning with jury selection. It is expected to last into next week.

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.