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Meeker County jury acquits Alabama man of sexual assault

John Zelensky

LITCHFIELD — An Alabama man was acquitted last week by a Meeker County jury of two felony sexual assault charges involving a 16-year old girl.

John Joseph Zelensky, 56, had been held in the Meeker County jail since June.

He was released Thursday evening following the jury's decision.

Zelensky had been charged with felony charges of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree and third degree.

According to the criminal complaint, Zelensky had been staying with the girl's family near Dassel when he was alleged to have sexually assaulted the girl in her home.

When police arrived at the residence, they discovered that family members had locked Zelensky inside a fish house-type trailer because they were upset with what he had reportedly done.

According to the police report, law enforcement put Zelensky in the back of a squad car for his own safety,

In October, Zelensky had pleaded not guilty to the charges and a jury trial was held last week.

Just before the trial was set to begin, prosecutors filed six additional charges against Zelensky.

The defense objected to the last-minute addition of charges. Judge Stephen Wentzell agreed with the defense and dismissed the amended complaint and ordered the jury trial to proceed on the original charges only.

The jury found him not guilty of both charges.

Calls to Meeker County Attorney Brandi Lynn Schiefelbein and Zelensky's public defender Brian Olsen were not returned by press deadline Monday.