On May 23, prosecutors charged Jessie James Jeffries, 35, of Winona, with four counts of criminal sexual conduct for allegedly raping and molesting two children between May 2018 and October 2019.

According to the criminal complaint, Winona County Sheriff’s Office deputies received a report about the alleged abuse last September, and authorities conducted forensic interviews with the two victims that month. The victims — one of whom was under 13 at the time of the alleged abuse and one who was between 13 and 16 — said that Jeffries allegedly raped them numerous times, according to the criminal complaint. 

Jeffries faces two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, each punishable by up to 30 years in prison, and two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, each punishable by up to 25 years in prison. Winona County Attorney’s Office brought heightened charges against Jeffries for allegedly holding a position of authority over the victims.

Jeffries is not in custody; his first appearance is scheduled for July 28. Asked if there was any risk to public safety, Winona Chief of Police Tom Williams noted that the victims were known to Jeffries. "It wasn’t a stranger just perpetrating on kids in the community," he said. He continued, "People always have to have their guard up and be cognizant of their surroundings and who they’re dealing with.” He said the decision to issue charges and summon Jeffries to a future court date instead of make an arrest know was made by the Winona County Attorney's Office in coordination with police investigators. "Based on the circumstances of the case and, obviously, the opinion of the County Attorney's Office, a complaint summons was appropriate versus an arrest warrant, based on the facts in the case," he said.

In an emailed statement, Sonneman wrote, "It is not uncommon, when there is a delayed report by a victim of an alleged sexual assault and there is no known current contact by the suspect with the victim, for a criminal complaint on the matter to be issued by summons and complaint rather than by complaint warrant." Complaint warrant refers to an arrest warrant.