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Man charged for sexual assault of real estate agent

A Minnesota man accused of sexually assaulting a real estate agent while viewing a house will undergo a preliminary hearing next week regardless of whether he has retained a lawyer, Douglas County Court Commissioner Paul Baxter ruled today.

James Robert Osborn, 49, Keewatin, faces felony charges of false imprisonment and attempted third-degree sexual assault as well as misdemeanor charges of fourth degree sexual assault and misdemeanor battery.

The charges stem from an alleged incident March 23 at a house located on South County Highway A in Superior.

According to the criminal complaint, Osborn viewed the house March 22 with a female real estate agent. He asked to see the house again the next day.

In a smaller bedroom upstairs, the complaint states, Osborn grabbed the agent's buttocks and the two struggled. The agent told officers she tried to push her way to the door while telling Osborn that "they" knew where she was.

Osborn pinned the victim's arms then pinned her hands when she reached for her cell phone, the complaint states. As the two struggled, the agent told officers that Osborn lifted her off the floor twice, constricting her breathing and hitting her head on an object. She said she managed to stomp on Osborn's foot with her boots, which had three-inch heels, and kick him.

After Osborn lifted her up the second time, she stated, things were getting cloudy and he asked if she wanted him to do that again. He released her after she relaxed and said "no," the complaint states. Osborn then left the home, according to the complaint.

The charges were filed March 27 along with a warrant for Osborn's arrest. His first court appearance was April 9, according to court records. At that time, he pled not guilty to the two misdemeanor charges.

Osborn is not eligible for a court-appointed attorney based on income, Baxter said during today's hearing. The Minnesota man said he had looked into hiring an attorney.

"I can't afford it," he told the commissioner. He said his wife tried to take out a loan but was denied.

Baxter urged him to contact more lawyers.

"There are an awful lot of attorneys in this area," he said, with a wide range of retainers needed.

"These are substantial penalties here," Baxter said, with the potential of up to 12 1/2 years imprisonment.

But, he said, a preliminary hearing scheduled for April 25 will proceed whether Osborn takes additional steps to hire an attorney or not.

Osborn is being held at the Douglas County Jail on $10,000 cash bail.