Amateur sting doesn’t net former hockey coach

No charges filed due to consent age

NEW ULM — A 31-year-old former Cloquet junior hockey coach caught in an amateur sex sting in July will not face charges in Brown County District Court for soliciting teen boys online for sex.

Amateur undercover agents lured Brandon Phelps to Sleepy Eye in July to allegedly meet up with a 16-year-old boy.

Brown County Attorney Chuck Hanson said video evidence provided by The Midwest Predator Catchers (MPC) does not indicate the coach committed a crime because the individual he communicated with (by text message) was presumed to be 16.

Minnesota Statute 609.352 Subdivision 1(a) defines “child” as a person 15 years of age or younger.

“The person whom (the coach) corresponded with was an adult who said he was 16. The definition of a child is 15 years old or younger,” Hanson said. “They (MPC) weren’t posing as someone who would be illegal to talk to about sex.”

The coach was fired from the Cloquet hockey team after his confrontation on the Sleepy Eye Lake trail with the Midwest Predator Catchers was posted in an online video with screenshots of text messages.

The MPC posted that they created an organization to catch sexual predators with the goal of protecting the community from those who prey on children.

Hanson and New Ulm Police Senior Investigator Jeff Hohensee said they are concerned for the safety of the MPC and the individuals they confront.

MPC has conducted other sex stings in the area.

On Aug. 1, 2022, the MPC, described as three witnesses in Blue Earth County court documents, said they confronted Brandon R. Peterson, 26, of Mankato at the Mankato Walmart store, claiming he was there to meet a 14-year-old girl for sex.

Peterson admitted to police that he believed the individual was 14 years old and he was excited about meeting the individual, according to court documents. Peterson later provided his cell phone to police who read through it and noticed sexual messages sent to a female named “Layla.”

The witnesses told police they created a fake account on a dating application, Peterson messaged the account and the messages continued on Snapchat. The witnesses said their age was 14 before they did a “sting” at the store when Peterson arrived.

Peterson was charged with felony counts of engaging in electronic communication relating or describing sexual conduct with child and felony distributing via electronic communication material that relates/describes sexual conduct to a child on Aug. 2, 2022 in Blue Earth County District Court.


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