Hennepin Co. public defender investigator charged in "sugar daddy" case

Fox 9 is uncovering new details about a Hennepin County Public Defender’s Office employee who allegedly solicited sex from a 15-year-old girl and agreed to be her “sugar daddy.”

Clayton James Smeby, 46, is charged with soliciting a child through electronic communication for sexual conduct, according to the criminal complaint obtained by Fox 9. The charge was filed on Sept.12, but the file had been marked confidential until now.

Smeby is a state-employed Hennepin County public defender investigator, according to Hennepin County officials.

“His job is to assist defense attorneys in crafting defenses,” Christa Groshek, a criminal defense attorney not connected to the case, told Fox 9.

According to the criminal complaint, in August, Brooklyn Park police arrested a 15-year-old girl in a separate incident. At the time of her arrest, she told police she had just been sexually assaulted by a pimp. Based on her interview, police filed a search warrant, which led to the discovery of the text conversations between her and Smeby.

FIRST REPORT: Hennepin Co. criminal investigator allegedly solicited sex from teen girl

The search warrant affidavit showed text messages between the 15-year-old girl and Smeby discussing how he would be the girl’s "sugar daddy." They agreed he would give her money and assistance in exchange for a sexual relationship.

According to the heavily redacted criminal complaint, on June 28, the girl asked Smeby to get her some liquor, to which he replied, "I'm sure I might have enough here and when is your birthday because I have two coupons for a business partner who gave me some free limo rental and you have to be 16 years old." She responded she would turn 16 years old in October. Smeby responded, “Well my birthday is on the 17 lol lol”.

On July 7, Smeby texted the teen, “I’m at work downtown remember that place?” and then sent a picture of the 15-year-old sitting in an office at a desk.

In July 16, Smeby texted her, "I'm really really digging being your secret and hope I can be for a long time."
The conversations lasted from late June until she was arrested in August.

According to the criminal complaint, when police interviewed the 15-year-old in August, she admitted that the number belonged to Smeby, but she denied sending him sexual texts or having a sexual relationship. She claimed another girl had access to the phone and had sent the messages. She also denied having sex with him in his office downtown.

According to the search warrant affidavit, on Sept. 9, police arrested Smeby for probable cause of solicitation of a minor.

According to the search warrant affidavit, after Smeby was arrested, he told police he received the girl’s messages that said she was underage, but he decided to ignore them.

However, according to the criminal complaint, Smeby admitted texting the girl, but said the sexual texts were for her older friend. He denied knowing the girl was 15 years old and said he thought she was born in 1998.
Smeby has no known prior felony offenses. 

If found guilty, Groshek says it’s unlikely Smeby will face prison time.

“He’ll be placed on probation, he would be convicted of a sex offense, he would potentially have to serve some local jail time, be subject to treatment, that sort of thing,” Groshek said.

Groshek adds a portion of the statute Smeby is charged under is currently under review in the Supreme Court. According to Groshek, this means the defense could motion to dismiss the charge under the ground that the section Smeby is charged under is also “unconstitutional.”

For the full appellate court filing, click here.