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Willmar man pleads to lesser charge in sexual assault case; sentencing scheduled next month

WILLMAR -- Manuel Antonio Leiva-Pineda, 27, of Willmar, pleaded guilty Thursday to an amended charge of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for sexually assaulting a woman Feb. 28 at a Willmar apartment building.

As part of a plea agreement reached in Kandiyohi County District Court, the charge was reduced from a third-degree charge. Leiva-Pineda will be sentenced to no further executed jail time so he may be turned over to the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Leiva-Pineda entered an Alford plea to the charge. Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but admits there is likely enough evidence for a conviction.

He will be sentenced July 27.

The charge was filed after Willmar police officers were called to Dana Heights Apartments complex, 1500 15th St. S.E., around 3 a.m. Feb. 28.

A woman there re-ported she'd been sexually assaulted.

She was taken to the emergency room at Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar.

Another woman reported she and the victim had received a ride from Leiva-Pineda to the apartment complex after they left a local night club.

The woman said Leiva-Pineda asked if he could have sex with both of them and that they declined his offer.

The woman said she'd left with a third woman to get cigarettes from a convenience store and that when she returned from the store, the victim informed her that she'd been assaulted.

Officers interviewed the victim at the hospital, where she reported Leiva-Pineda had pulled her into a bedroom, turned off the lights and closed the door.

She said he sexually assaulted her, even as she told him not to.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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