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Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - A Rochester man entered a guilty plea Wednesday just before his trial was set to begin in a child sexual assault case.

38-year-old Rafael Earl Steele admitted to a first-degree criminal sexual conduct charge and was ordered to return to Olmsted County Court in March for sentencing. In the meantime, he has been released from custody without bail.

The criminal complaint says genetic testing was used to identify Steele as the father of an infant boy born at a Mayo Clinic facility in Rochester in September 2022. The mother of the newborn was identified as a 15-year-old girl.


According to the court document, the juvenile victim was 14 years old when she became pregnant. The charges say she initially told investigators that an unidentified teenage boy was the father, but later offered police "another inconsistent hypothesis for the origin of the pregnancy."

The plea agreement in the case does not list a recommended sentence. Instead, it states that Steele will be able to argue for a downward departure from state guidelines at his sentencing hearing. The maximum sentence is 30 years in prison.

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