A 35-year-old Ham Lake man who terrorized and sexually assaulted several women from 2015 to 2019, many in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood near the University of Minnesota, pleaded guilty Thursday to five counts of criminal sexual conduct.
As part of a plea agreement entered during a remote hearing in Hennepin County District Court, Jory Wiebrand pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, according to County Attorney Mike Freeman. His negotiated sentence will total more than 45 years (550 months) in prison.
The first-degree charges stem from these cases, all in Minneapolis:
• On March 23, 2015, Wiebrand sexually assaulted a woman as she was cleaning snow off her car in the 1300 block of SE. 7th Street.
• On Feb. 25, 2018, he sexually assaulted a woman in her yard in the 800 block of NE. 20th Avenue as she arrived home from shopping.
• On Aug. 4, 2018, Wiebrand attacked a woman as she entered her home in the 800 block of SE. 6th Street and sexually assaulted and robbed her.
On Aug. 7, 2019, he attacked and sexually assaulted a woman after she got out of the shower at her home in the 700 block of SE. 4th Street.
The second-degree charge stems from a case on Feb. 8, 2019, when Wiebrand attacked and sexually assaulted a woman as she was on her way to a bus stop near the 600 block of SE. 8th Street.
Some of Wiebrand's victims were university students, including Brooke Morath, who told her story in the Star Tribune's 2018 investigative series "Denied Justice." Morath's anguish over how police handled her rape investigation led to the inquiry, which exposed widespread failings in how sex assaults in Minnesota are investigated and prosecuted.
On Thursday, Judge Kerry Meyer accepted the guilty plea on the first-degree criminal sexual conduct case, for which Wiebrand will receive 172 months in prison. Meyer is expected to pronounce Wiebrand guilty of all of the offenses at his sentencing hearing on March 11.
"I commend the hard work our prosecutors put forth on these cases," Freeman said in a news release. "I also want to acknowledge the exceptional police work that made it possible to identify, arrest, charge and ultimately convict Mr. Wiebrand. Had it not been for their diligent work, he may still be on the loose, tormenting innocent women."
Other terms of the plea agreement require Wiebrand to register as a predatory sexual offender, be on conditional release for the rest of his life, and pay any possible restitution to all of his victims.
Staff writers Jennifer Bjorhus and MaryJo Webster contributed to this report.