Gaylen Paul Rufus, 54, Minot, appeared in court Monday afternoon on a Class AA felony charge of human trafficking and a Class B felony for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.
Bond was set at $75,000 cash or corporate surety with several restrictions imposed. Those restrictions are being placed on the 24/7 state sobriety program drug patch, having no contact with minors under 18, an order to not leave the state without court permission and to submit DNA to the sheriff's office for identification purposes.
He has three additional Class C felony drug charges associated with the case, as well as a Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana paraphernalia charge.
The charge stems from a Ward County Sheriff's Department sting where an officer with the Internet Crimes Against Children, or ICAC, division made contact with the man.
According to their investigation, Rufus, through Internet communication, agreed to trade drugs for sex with a 14-year-old girl.
A Class AA felony, the human trafficking charge, carries a maximum sentence of a lifetime in state prison, a $20,000 fine, or both. A Class B felony carries a maximum of 10 years in state prison, a fine of $20,00 or both. The Class C felonies carry a maximum of 10 years in state prison, a fine of $10,000 or both.
Rufus revoked his application for state-appointed counsel at his appearance and said that he will instead seek private representation.
Despite repeated attempts by Northwest Judicial District Judge Gary Lee to warn Rufus of the repercussions of speaking about the case without an attorney present, Rufus continued to do so.
He began by saying that he was born and raised in Minot and has owned an unidentifed, licensed local business for 18 years.
"Hold on, hold on, stop," said Lee. "You might want to consider very carefully what you're going to say here ... There is a court reporter here that is taking down everything that is said and if you make any admissions that can be used against you in subsequent legal preceedings the state's attorney will ask for that transcript and the jury will hear it."
Despite the warning, and an additional one, Rufus continued. His speech made certain people in the court cringe with discomfort.
"These people came back to my site ... this was two weeks, two or three weeks after the initial, they had an ad on Craigslist. I seen the ad on Craigslist. I made the stupid mistake of answering to it. I'm not going to deny that as far as that goes," he said in part of his lengthy statement.
"I've been married three times, I've two daughters of my own, I've never had any history, no sexual history or whatever, and I'm here to tell you, your honor, that if they wouldn't have done that we wouldn't be here today," he added, referencing what he said was repeated contact by the police operating the sting.
According to Assistant State's Attorney Christene Reierson, Rufus has no prior felony convictions.
His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 7 at 11:30 a.m.