Prosecutor files to dismiss corruption of a minor

charge against Pittenger, Minot

Ward County Deputy State’s Attorney Kelly Dillon filed a motion on May 9 to dismiss a Class A misdemeanor corruption of a minor charge against Alexander Pittenger, 23, of Minot.

Dillon wrote that “a structural error committed in the course of trial would likely result in a reversal of the conviction and require the victim to endure the stress of a third trial.” However, Judge Stacy Louser asked for clarification on the motion in a letter to the prosecution and defense on May 14.

Pittenger, who has been required to register as a sex offender, has appealed the conviction to the State Supreme Court.

The case has been marked by stops and starts. Pittenger had been accused of having a relationship with a girl when he was 20 and the girl was 15. He was found guilty of the Class A misdemeanor charge in February 2017. In July 2017, Louser sentenced him to 360 days in prison, with a requirement that he serve 300 days, followed by two years of supervised probation. Pittenger received credit for 153 days already served in jail.

The Supreme Court had temporarily remanded the corruption of a minor case back to Louser to consider a motion regarding the agreement by the parties that a ‘structural error in closing the courtroom during part of the State’s case-in-chief. The Supreme Court ordered the district court o file an updated certificate of record after it considered the remand.

Pittenger had originally been charged with Class A felony gross sexual imposition as well as Class A misdemeanor corruption of a minor. He had been accused of having a sexual relationship with a girl when she was 14 and he was 19. He went to trial on those charges in January 2016. The trial was stalled when the state’s attorney’s office appealed one of Louser’s rulings to the state supreme court. Louser had ruled that a BCI special agent had not been designated as an expert witness and his testimony might be prejudicial against Pittenger. The supreme court ruled that Louser’s ruling was premature. Louser heard the agent’s testimony outside the presence of the jury and then decided he could testify that he had extracted text messages from the victim’s cell phone.

Pittenger went to trial again in July 2016 on the misdemeanor corruption of a minor charge and a Class A felony gross sexual imposition charge. That case ended in mistrial when Louser ruled that a witness had violated her order not to disclose Pittenger’s past criminal conviction of violation of a protection order. In January 2017, Louser dismissed the Class A felony charge against Pittenger after the state’s attorney’s office acknowledged it couldn’t prove every element of the offense. Pittenger went to trial on the Class A misdemeanor corruption of a minor charge and was then found guilty by a jury.

In April a Class A misdemeanor charge of violation of a disorderly conduct restraining order was dismissed due to lack of evidence against Pittenger. Pittenger had allegedly made contact on Snapchat with an 18-year-old woman in October 2017. She had told police she decided to give Pittenger another chance because they have a child together. Pittenger’s parents told police that the young woman knocked on their door but Pittenger wasn’t home at the time.

– Andrea Johnson