ALHS counselor’s criminal sexual conduct trial moves forward following decision about evidence from previous school

ALHS counselor’s criminal sexual conduct trial moves forward

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(ABC 6 News) – A former Albert Lea High School counselor’s criminal sexual conduct case moved forward, after a Freeborn County judge decided whether the prosecution could use evidence of previous alleged misdeeds in court.

Richard John Polley, 34, was arrested and charged with 3rd-degree criminal sexual conduct after allegedly having sex with an Albert Lea student under age 18 in January of 2022.

As of Friday. Feb. 16, Polley is scheduled to appear for a pretrial hearing Aug. 30, followed by a jury trial beginning Sept. 16, 2024.

RELATED: ALHS counselor, girls basketball coach accused of sexual conduct, placed on administrative leave – ABC 6 News –

The State of Minnesota filed a motion Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022 to introduce evidence that Polley had previously communicated inappropriately with underage girls in his previous position at Woodberry High School in South Washington County.

RELATED: Former ALHS counselor, coach’s trial rescheduled after motion to introduce new evidence – ABC 6 News –

According to court documents, Woodberry leadership received a phone call from parents admonishing Polley for “inappropriate texting” with a 10th-grade student during his tenure there from 2017-2021.

According to court documents, Polley had texted with multiple students and requested photos from at least one during spring break of 2021. The court documents state that Polley resigned from Woodberry due to the accusations.

Freeborn County Judge Christy Hormann entered a judgement roughly one year after the controversial evidence was introduced, ruling that some evidence from Woodberry school files would be admissible — but not everything the prosecution hoped to use to prove “motive, opportunity, intent, plan, absence of mistake or accident” in the alleged Albert Lea High School incident.

Court documents reference materials from Polley’s employment files obtained via search warrant, which will apparently be presented as “Exhibit 2” during trial.

The prosecution will not be allowed to present other evidence of Polley’s alleged inappropriate behavior, Hormann ruled, as texting teenagers is not the same as allegedly having a sexual relationship with a student, and comparing them could prejudice jurors, according to Hormann’s ruling.

Furthermore, Hormann agreed with Polley’s defense that the warrant used to obtain information about Woodberry’s investigation was overbroad, but stated that law enforcement would have gotten the evidence she considered relevant to the case even with a narrower wording.