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Duluth ex-Boy Scout volunteer faces sex assault charges

Edwin Charles Culbert Jr. is accused of repeatedly assaulting a Boy Scout beginning in 1990.

DULUTH - A 76-year-old Duluth man who volunteered with the Boy Scouts -- and whose attorney said had attained the rank of major in the Air National Guard -- is accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting a boy 16 to 20 years ago.

Edwin Charles Culbert Jr. was charged Wednesday in St. Louis County District Court with first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct. According to the criminal complaint, Culbert sexually assaulted the boy starting when the alleged victim was 12 years old in 1990.

Culbert posted $10,000 bail and was released Wednesday afternoon from the St. Louis County Jail. He was ordered by the court to have no contact with his alleged victim.

Culbert was reached by phone at his Lakeside home.

"We're going to face it because it was a long time ago," he said. "There's nothing there as far as we know." He declined further comment.

Defense attorney Rodney Brodin told Judge John DeSanto that his client has no prior criminal record other than a speeding ticket. He called the charges "odd."

DeSanto recused himself from presiding over future hearings involving Culbert because the judge said he had once been a neighbor of the defendant.

Brodin said his client will plead not guilty. "We deny that anything happened and we'll face it when the time comes," Brodin said after the hearing.

The statute of limitations on sexual assault cases is nine years after the commission of the offense or three years after the offense was reported to law enforcement authorities. According to the criminal complaint, the alleged victim telephoned Duluth police in February to report that he had been sexually assaulted as a boy while living in the Woodland neighborhood.

He said that he has been married for 11 years and felt ashamed and embarrassed about the sexual encounters with Culbert. He said he had been introduced to the Boy Scouts at the age of 10 to 11 and Culbert, who was active with the Boy Scouts, befriended his family. He said he was 12 years old when the first sexual encounter occurred. He said he spent the night at Culbert's home and woke to find the defendant naked in bed with him and sexually assaulting him.

The alleged victim told police that he continued to associate with Culbert because of his role with the Boy Scouts and because he paid him very well to do odd jobs around his house. He said the defendant allowed him to drink beer and drive his cars. He alleges the abuse lasted between 1990 and 1994. He said the defendant told him to "keep this between us," and that they were "soul mates."

The alleged victim said that he had taken trips with Culbert to the Twin Cities area and to Detroit, where he was sexually abused in a hotel near the Detroit airport. He said he was allowed to travel to Detroit with the defendant to celebrate his 15th birthday.

Included in the evidence against Culbert is a May 4 recorded phone call in which he reportedly told the alleged victim that they had a good relationship and that he believed that they were not only friends, but "companions." The defendant allegedly said that he enjoyed seeing the boy grow up and that somehow "the sexual slipped in there and spoiled it," and it "clouded the whole thing." He told the alleged victim that he felt terrible about it, according to the criminal complaint.

The Duluth News Tribune and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.