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Backus man charged with indecent exposure, soliciting young girl

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A Backus man was charged in Crow Wing District Court after a 6-year-old said the man exposed himself to her and told her to touch his private parts at the Baxter Wal-Mart on Sept. 26.

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Michael Paul Henson, 42, was charged with soliciting a child in sexual conduct, a felony, and fifth-degree lewd exhibition to someone under 16, a gross misdemeanor.

According to the criminal complaint, Henson said he talked to a crying girl, but denies committing either crime.

The complaint states:

• On Sept. 26, an assistant store manager at the Baxter Wal-Mart told police that a mother reported a stranger tried to make her daughter touch his private parts.

Baxter police officer Joseph Sundgaard spoke with the mother, who said her daughter was looking at fish in the aquariums while the mother shopped for snacks. When the mother approached the aquariums, her daughter walked toward her quickly with her head down and her hands covering her eyes, sobbing.

According to the mother, her daughter told her that a man approached her, took his private parts out of his pants and tried to get the girl to touch him.

• Baxter sergeant Russ Wicklund, after reviewing surveillance video at Wal-Mart, found a possible suspect. He spoke with the mother and the daughter at the Baxter Police Department.

The daughter stated that she was looking at fish when a man showed her his private parts and told her to touch them. The daughter said she did not touch the man nor did he touch her. The daughter then identified the man from the Wal-Mart videos as the man whom she said exposed himself to her in the store.

• Wicklund issued a crime alert that resulted in the suspect being identified as Henson.

• On Oct. 2, Wicklund noticed Henson’s vehicle in Pine River. Henson agreed to speak to Wicklund at the Pine River Police Department.

Henson acknowledged being at the Wal-Mart and said he talked to a little girl he had seen crying, but denied exposing himself to the girl or asking her to touch his private parts. He said the little girl walked away without saying anything to him.

By phone, Wicklund said he couldn’t say what was caught on surveillance video in the store.

“I can’t exactly say what we have on video, but I don’t know if it would be fair to say everything was caught on video,” he said. “There’s some video evidence, obviously.”

Henson made his first court appearance Oct. 4 and bail was set at $2,500 with conditions or $10,000 without conditions. Henson was no longer listed on the Crow Wing County in-custody list Monday, Oct. 7.

Online court documents show that he was granted a public defender, and an omnibus hearing is set for Nov. 20.

Kate Perkins can be reached at kate.perkins@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at twitter.com/KateAtEcho.

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