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Akeley to pay $55,000 to settle civil sexual assault case

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AKELEY -- The City of Akeley has settled a lawsuit filed by a woman who claims she was sexually assaulted by on-duty Hubbard County Sheriff's Deputy Greg Siera.

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A reported $55,000 will be paid to rural Akeley resident Kristy Barsch and her attorneys.

Akeley police chief Eric Klein, police officer Travis Carlson and the city were named as defendants for allegedly failing to report the assault.

The settlement was announced in a prepared statement at Wednesday night's council meeting; details were not included. No criminal charges were ever filed against Siera, who left the department under pressure last spring.

By recommendation of counsel, the city decided to "compromise the disputed claim at the outset of the litigation in light of anticipated expenses."

"The League of Minnesota Cities' attorney, Clifford Green, and Akeley's attorney, Steve Bolton, have both agreed the settlement is very advantageous to the city," mayor Scott Vettleson read from a prepared statement Wednesday. "The money award is being paid by the Minnesota League of Cities trust indemnification fund."

The city will be responsible for the $250 deductible. But deputy clerk Denise Rittgers indicated the settlement could affect the city's future insurance premiums.

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