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North Dakota school counselor found guilty of child sexual abuse

FARGO – A jury in federal court has found a Dunseith man guilty of aggravated sexual abuse of a child.

Roger Ricky Counts, whom court documents identify as a school counselor, was arrested in August 2018 for repeatedly sexually assaulting the child between May 1, 2016, and June 13, 2017. The child turned 8 during that timeframe.

According to court documents, the child disclosed the sexual abuse to members of his family on about June 13, 2017, while he was living at Little Shell Youth Shelter. He also told a staff member at the facility, who instructed him to write down what happened to him. According to court documents, Count would tell the child that if he did what he asked, he would buy him a "big toy." The child said it happened repeatedly.

A second boy told Little Shell Youth Shelter staff that Counts had exposed himself to him on two occasions. The second boy also was advised to write down what happened to him, and both boys underwent forensic interviews.

Both boys said that, following their interviews, they continued to see Counts at school. The first boy said Counts attempted to make him sit with him at school and attempted to put his arm around him. When the child refused, Counts threatened to send him to the office, according to court documents. The boy also said that when he told Counts he had disclosed the sexual abuse, Counts "got mad, and said that he thought (the child) could keep a secret," according to documents.

The second child said he and Counts did not talk at school, but that Counts put his hands on the child's head and face while he was in the lunch line. The child also said that Counts would speak with students while they were walking into school, and that the first child would hide behind the second child so as not to be seen by Counts, because he was scared of Counts, documents said.

Counts is scheduled to be sentenced on June 22.