Stearns County Sheriff’s Sgt. Phil Meemken pleaded guilty Monday afternoon to one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of providing alcohol to a minor.
The Anoka County Attorney’s Office says the 42-year-old Meemken is scheduled to be sentenced later this summer in Stearns County. Under state sentencing guidelines, he would serve his time in jail, not prison, because he does not have a criminal record.
The plea comes almost 2½ years after the allegations first came to law enforcement.
Meemken’s guilty plea came on the day that jury selection was scheduled to begin in Anoka County, where the trial had been moved because of pretrial publicity.
The plea agreement avoids a trial and a potential lengthy prison sentence.
Meemken was facing 25 criminal charges – four counts each of of first-, second- and third-degree criminal sexual conduct, 10 counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, two gross misdemeanor counts of providing alcohol to minors and one count of child endangerment, also a gross misdemeanor.
The remaining counts were dismissed. .
The 25 criminal counts originally were filed by Kandiyohi County, which reviewed the case to avoid a conflict of having the Stearns County Attorney’s Office decide how or whether to charge one of its own deputies. The case later was transferred to the Anoka County Attorney’s Office, which reviewed the file and decided to proceed with the 25 charges that already had been filed against Meemken.
Meemken was leading the department’s Police Explorer program and had been on the job for 18 years when he was put on paid leave in December 2009.