Trial begins for North Dakota Air National Guard member accused of raping subordinate

The accuser alleges Tech. Sgt. Erick Clemenson sexually assaulted her after she took him home because he was too intoxicated to drive. Clemenson claimed the sex was consensual.

2017 mugshot of Erick Clemenson

FARGO — The woman who accused her North Dakota Air National Guard superior of raping her more than a year ago in Fargo testified on Tuesday, March 30, in court about what she called “the worst day of her life."

The trial of Tech. Sgt. Erik Eldon Clemenson, 45, of Glyndon, Minn., began Tuesday. The servicemember has been charged with a Class B felony of sexual imposition.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Court documents detail how Clemenson, the accuser and others went out on Nov. 7, 2019, to a restaurant and then a bar. Most of the group, including Clemenson, drank alcohol, though the woman did not since she was not of legal drinking age, court documents said.

The woman said Tuesday on the stand her work group won an award that allowed them to go out. She said she felt safe with her other male servicemembers when they were at the restaurant.


The Forum does not typically name victims and accusers in sexual assault cases.

The group went to a nearby bar, where the woman said Clemenson and others drank more heavily than at the restaurant. At one point, he rubbed her back, she said.

The woman said she moved away, adding he never touched her before. She noted that she knew Clemenson was married and had children. Clemenson is not her direct supervisor, but the Guard prohibits romantic relationships between superiors and subordinates, she added.

The woman recounted that Clemenson asked if he could sleep on her couch because he was too intoxicated to drive. The person Clemenson previously arranged to drive him home left, court documents said.

The woman showed Clemenson the couch before going to bed, but Clemenson allegedly came into her bed and said he was going to sleep with her, according to court documents.

The woman told Clemenson no several times, but he continued touching her inappropriately before sexually assaulting her, court documents alleged.

"This was the worst day of my life," she said.

Clemenson claimed the sex was consensual, according to court documents. The woman had “been giving him attention at work and flirting with him," the complaint said. He said he gave into temptation, according to the complaint.


Clemenson is a technical sergeant for the 119th Wing in Fargo, also known as the Happy Hooligans. He joined the Guard in 1994. He also helped organize Special Olympics Polar Plunge events in Fargo.

In addition to his accuser, investigators and several Guard members are expected to testify in the trial.

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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