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Granite Falls man sentenced for fleeing to Mexico more than 20 years ago after child sex charge

Curtis Brovold tried to withdraw his guilty plea, saying he was confused when he admitted to fleeing. The criminal sexual conduct charge was dismissed, but he still faces an attempted bribery charge.

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Curtis Brovold appears Dec. 20, 2022, in the Clay County Courthouse in Moorhead.
Michael Vosburg / The Forum
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MOORHEAD, Minn. — A Granite Falls, Minnesota, man has been sentenced for fleeing to Mexico after prosecutors alleged he sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl more than 20 years ago in Moorhead.

Clay County Judge Jade Rosenfeldt ordered Curtis Lee Brovold, 69, on Tuesday, Dec. 20, to serve 12 months and one day behind bars for a felony charge of failure to appear.

Before he was sentenced, Brovold tried to withdraw a guilty plea he entered to the charge last month. Saying he gets confused easily, he said he felt he deserves a trial.

“Sometimes, decisions are difficult if I don’t have time to think about things,” he said.

Prosecutors initially charged Brovold with fleeing after the former computer technician failed to appear for a court hearing in September 2000. The hearing stemmed from felony counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and use of a minor in a sexual performance.

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A 14-year-old girl who met Brovold online the same year told police that Brovold sexually assault her at a motel in Moorhead, according to court documents. The girl also accused him of sending her a camera, which she used to take and send nude images of herself, a criminal complaint said.

Brovold was arrested and released on a $40,000 bond. He fled the country but was arrested earlier this year outside his home in Cancun, Mexico, according to the FBI.

The charges surrounding the minor were ultimately dropped. Prosecutor Pamela Foss declined to say why she couldn’t proceed with the case.

Still, prosecutors continued with the failure to appear charge, as well as a felony count of attempted bribery filed in March. The latter charge alleged he asked two people via text message to find the accuser in the sexual conduct case and offer her between $5,000 and $20,000 in cash, according to a criminal complaint. In exchange, the now-36-year-old woman would be asked not to testify against him, court documents said.

The unnamed individuals did not carry out the request, according to the complaint.

Brovold claimed prosecutors lacked probable cause to move forward with the bribery case, but Foss offered up the text messages as evidence during Tuesday’s hearing. Rosenfeldt said Foss and Brovold, who is representing himself, may submit their arguments in writing by Jan. 13.

Rosenfeldt also denied Brovold’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea, despite his claims that he suffered from brain fog, memory loss and dementia. Brovold answered questions during his November plea hearing appropriately and showed no signs of incompetency, the judge said.

It’s unclear why Brovold was confused, Rosenfeldt said, adding it’s more likely he regrets entering the plea.

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When given the chance to make a statement before sentencing, Brovold said he felt the judge was making a mistake in not allowing him to go to trial. Rosenfeldt said it was unfortunate that Brovold chose to focus on the denied motion instead of trying to explain why he fled.

The judge also noted Brovold didn’t show remorse in the case, according to a pre-sentence investigation.

Normally, Minnesota sentencing guidelines would allow Brovold’s sentence to be suspended, and he would be put on probation instead since he does not have a history of criminal convictions. Brovold has been in jail for 342 days.

To avoid being put on probation, Brovold followed recommendations by Foss to be given the jail sentence.

He’ll likely serve the rest of his time while awaiting trial in the bribery case. He is being held on a $100,000 bond.

Brovold asked the judge to release him on the condition that he promise to appear in court, but Rosenfeldt denied that request due to his history of absconding.

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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