Three local men face felony charges following sexual assault

by Rachel Kytonen

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Three local men are facing several felony charges in connection with an alleged sexual assault that took place near Pine City by the Snake River Dam.

The following were charged before Judge James Reuter in Pine County District Court on April 29:

  • Joshua Wolfgang Lanerd, 19, Cambridge: Felony first-degree criminal sexual conduct with penetration; felony kidnapping; felony third-degree criminal sexual conduct; and felony false imprisonment. Bail was set at $300,000 without conditions or $150,000 with conditions and his next court appearance is scheduled for May 7.
  • Cody Eugene Pokela, 18, North Branch: Felony aid and abet first-degree criminal sexual conduct with penetration; felony kidnapping; felony third-degree criminal sexual conduct; and felony false imprisonment. Bail was set at $150,000 without conditions or $75,000 with conditions and his next court appearance is scheduled for May 8.
  • Daniel Wayne Soderberg, 24, Cambridge: Felony aid and abet first-degree criminal sexual conduct with penetration; felony kidnapping; felony third-degree criminal sexual conduct; and felony false imprisonment. Bail was set at $100,000 without conditions or $50,000 with conditions and his next court appearance is scheduled for May 8.

According to the criminal complaint:

On April 26, at 3:56 p.m., Deputy Bradley Carlson of the Pine County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to investigate a report of a sexual assault. Carlson spoke to a 15-year-old female and her mother.

The victim said she had been at the park by the Pine City Elementary School with friends. Also at the park was Lanerd, Pokela and Soderberg.

The victim said she met Lanerd in Braham through a friend, and had known him for about four months. They had previously talked through Facebook and through texts. She said she didn’t know Pokela and Soderberg.

The victim said the men were going to leave so she walked over to their truck to say goodbye. Lanerd wanted her to give him a hug. Pokela opened the truck door and then Lanerd pulled the victim into the backseat. The victim asked what they were doing and nobody responded. Pokela then began to drive away with her inside.

Pokela drove them to a remote area near the Snake River Dam. The victim said she was frightened and said she thought about no one being able to hear her scream there. She said she was too afraid to try to escape, and she didn’t know what they were going to do.

Pokela and Soderberg got out of the truck and started smoking cigarettes. They were standing just outside the only doors of the truck. Lanerd then sexually assaulted the victim while she was trying to pull away. Lanerd told the victim to not tell anyone about the incident.

Pokela and Soderberg got back in the truck and Pokela drove back to the park where they let the victim out of the truck. Lanerd then asked her for gas money.

The victim said she tried to look natural as she walked away from the truck so they would think she wasn’t going to tell anyone. She went to the park and saw the three men watch her for about 5-10 minutes and eventually they drove away. The victim then called her mother and told her what had happened and they called the police.

The victim was able to provide Carlson with a photograph of Lanerd from Facebook. The victim went to Cambridge Medical Center to complete a sexual assault exam while law enforcement began working on identification of the three males.

The victim reviewed photographs and positively identified Lanerd as the male who had sexually assaulted her, Pokela as the driver of the pick-up, and Soderberg as the third male that had been with them.

An alert was put out for law enforcement to attempt to locate the three men and Pokela’s truck. At approximately 12:10 a.m. on April 27, an Isanti County deputy located the truck at a business in Cambridge. Pokela was in the driver’s seat and Lanerd and Soderberg were next to the truck and they were placed under arrest. The deputy noted the males did not seem concerned about their arrest, and were joking with each other on the way to the jail.

A record check shows Lanerd has an outstanding warrant for failure to appear at a hearing April 22, 2015 regarding a minor consumption ticket in Isanti County; Pokela is on conditions of release in a pending Pine County charge of third-degree burglary and is required to remain law abiding; and Soderberg is on conditions of release on a misdemeanor criminal property damage charge in Isanti County.

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