Victim's family says county let them down, undercharged alleged rapist

A Hutchinson, Minnesota family is fighting to get justice for their teenage daughter, as they believe the man who allegedly raped her is getting off easy.

Ruslan Aleksander Sparboe, 21, of Litchfield was charged with fifth degree criminal sexual conduct Wednesday.

According to court documents, the victim, who is a juvenile, told Sparboe she didn’t want to have sex with him. But later that night, after falling asleep in his bed, she woke up to him taking off her pants. She described being shocked, saying she “froze as she did not know how to address the situation.”

The victim told police she “cried and struggled” as Sparboe penetrated her, yet he didn’t stop.

When it was over, she left Sparboe’s house and called her mother from a nearby church. Her mother immediately took her to Meeker County Memorial Hospital and called police.

“She got in the car and I said ‘what happened?’ She said, ‘mommy he raped me. I was sleeping and he just took advantage of me,’” recalls the victim’s mother.

The family is disappointed in the Meeker County Attorney’s Office, as they believe Sparboe was undercharged.

We asked criminal defense attorney Joe Tamburino to look at the case. He said he’s “perplexed” as to how the prosecutor came to the fifth degree charge.

“When there is just touching, and of a less serious nature, then it’s fifth degree,” said Tamburino. “The complaint reads like third degree criminal sexual conduct but what’s charged is a gross misdemeanor.”

Tamburino says by charging the suspect with fifth degree as opposed to second or third, he avoids a felony and having to register as a sex offender.

As the victim’s mother points out, it also means the suspect wasn’t arrested and is still living in their community.

“It’s teaching [victims] to walk away," she said. "It’s teaching them to forever live with that shame that their perpetrator put on them.”

The Meeker County Attorney’s office never returned Fox 9’s request for comment.