Grand Forks man sentenced for gross sexual imposition, aggravated assault and terrorizing

Mar. 6—GRAND FORKS — A Grand Forks man was sentenced to 18 years in prison on charges of assault, terrorizing and gross sexual imposition.

Craig Eugene Peltier, 54, had his sentencing hearing on Monday, March 6.

According to an affidavit in the case, law enforcement was dispatched on Aug. 19, 2021, for a reported sexual assault. The woman told the police the incident took place in the men’s bathroom attached to her apartment building, and that the man told her if she told anyone about the incident “he knows where she lives and would find her and kill her,” the affidavit said .

Video footage showed a male — later identified as Peltier — walking with the woman, the affidavit said. The woman said Peltier had asked where the bathroom was, so she led him to it.

The woman told police Peltier “grabbed her and pulled her into the bathroom by her arm,” then hit and strangled her, the affidavit said.

The two were seen on video entering the bathroom at 4:17 am and exiting at 5:43 am

“That was a brutal attack that was an hour and 26 minutes long,” Ashley Neufeld, representing the state, said during the sentencing hearing.

The woman was hospitalized for her injuries.

“The harm to the victim is horrific,” Neufeld said.

The woman’s caretaker gave a victim impact statement during Peltier’s sentencing. She testified to the lasting effect of the woman’s injuries, and said the woman has not fully regained her strength — physically or mentally, adding that the woman is in therapy.

Initially, Peltier was charged with Class AA felony gross sexual imposition by compelling “the victim … to submit by force or by threat of imminent death,” according to court documents.

However, in September, the charge was amended to Class A felony gross sexual imposition “victim has mental disease or defect” and “seriously bodily injury” was caused.

With the amendment, Peltier used the Alford plea to plead guilty. He pleaded guilty to Class C felony aggravated assault and Class C felony terrorizing.

Peltier’s public defender, Steven Mottinger, asked the court to sentence Peltier to 20 years, first serving seven years in prison.

According to court statements, Peltier was under the influence of alcohol when the incident took place. He also has various alcohol-related convictions.

“Mr. Peltier obviously has a longstanding problem with alcohol,” Mottinger said.

Mottinger said Peltier “maintains a very close relationship with his family” and is “a loving father.”

“He simply wants to get this behind him and move forward,” Mottinger said.

Peltier spoke as well, and recalled physically attacking the woman.

“I’m not denying I assaulted her,” said Peltier. “… I’m not trying to get away with anything.”

Peltier said he did not recall sexually assaulting the woman, and said the presumptive positive semen sample could not be linked to him specifically. However, Neufeld said other DNA on the woman’s body was confirmed as Peltier’s.

Peltier’s daughter, Tiffany Davis, gave a statement. She spoke of Peltier’s role in her and her family’s life, and how important he is to them. Davis said her father is not a “monster” or “terrible person.”

“He is not a rapist,” said Davis. “… Please, please have mercy on his soul.”

Neufeld requested 20 years, first serving 18 years of imprisonment.

Neufeld said Peltier has “pages upon pages of criminal history” and has never successfully completed probation, according to the writer of the pre-sentence investigation.

“Every time he’s been on probation, more crimes have been committed,” Neufeld said.

Neufeld said the state agreed to the amended lesser charge so the woman involved would not have to go through a trial, but that if Peltier had gone to trial and been convicted she would have requested a life sentence.

Judge Don Hager sentenced Peltier to 18 years in prison, saying Peltier was “basically getting the minimum” of what he would have been sentenced to if he had gone to trial and been convicted of the Class AA charge.

Peltier will be required to register as a sex offender and undergo sex offender treatment while incarcerated.

Peltier has credit for 565 days served. Upon his release, he will be on supervised probation for five years.

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