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Man faces life in prison for sexually assaulting two children

Tyrell Everett Phelps

A Grand Forks man accused of sexually assaulting two children faces life in prison.

Tyrell Everett Phelps, 26, appeared Thursday in Grand Forks District Court from jail via video on charges of gross sexual imposition, a Class AA felony, and sexual assault, a Class C felony. The former charge carries the most severe sentence in North Dakota: life in prison without parole.

Phelps was arrested Wednesday afternoon after a report he had sexual contact with two children—one who was younger than 15 years old. A criminal complaint describes a "relationship" between Phelps and one victim beginning in October, with the alleged sexual acts starting in November. It's unclear when the alleged sexual contact began with the other victim, but court documents allege the sexual encounters with the two children lasted into May, adding Phelps "solicited them to have sex."

A person is guilty of gross sexual imposition if he or she "engages in a sexual act with another" or "causes another to engage in a sexual act" and the victim is less than 15 years old, among other violations.

A person is guilty of sexual assault if he or she is an adult and the victim is a minor but is at least 15 years old.

This appears to be Phelps' first sex crime charge on his North Dakota record.

The Herald does not identify victims of sex crimes unless they choose to have their names made public.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

(701) 780-1248