The top prosecutor in Benton County has been accused of sexually assaulting a child under 16.
Benton County Attorney Phillip Kent Miller, 60, faces three charges for alleged criminal sexual conduct beginning in March 2020, according to court documents.
Miller, a Rice resident, has been charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim younger than 16 and two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim between the ages of 13 and 15, according to public court records.
Miller was not available to speak with the St. Cloud Times Tuesday morning because he was scheduled to appear in court.
St. Cloud police learned of the allegations in January, according to the statement of probable cause.
Miller denied touching the victim in a sexual manner, according to the statement of probable cause.
Members of the victim’s household reported changes in the victim’s behavior and a similar version of the allegations which had been previously described by the victim, according to the same document.
Miller was charged in a court summons filed July 27. Miller is scheduled to make a court appearance Aug. 18.
The charges were handled by officials in Dakota County, to avoid a conflict of interest. Dakota County staff will travel to Foley for future court dates.
All the Benton County Board members have been briefed on the charges.
The operation of the Benton County Attorney’s office is an open question. The county attorney is elected and not subject to some personnel policies.
“I posed this question to another attorney in the county attorney’s office, the question was: Can he continue serving as the county attorney while all these charges are there,” County Administrator Montgomery Headley recounted. “The answer was yes. He technically can continue serving as county attorney with those charges present.”
Board member Jared Gapinski, who represents Sauk Rapids, said he hasn’t had time to reflect on the charges against Miller.
“I have not even had time to wrap my head around this, as we’ve been in meetings all day,” Gapinski said.
He said he’s inclined to “let everything run its course.”
Miller has been the Benton County attorney for eight years. He has been a prosecutor for more than three decades and spent time as county attorney for Koochiching County and Lake of the Woods County.
He was re-elected in 2018 after running unopposed.
This story will be updated.