MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 28-year-old Hawley, Minnesota man faces bribery charges after he allegedly attempted to bribe a sexual assault victim with promises of buying her a house, according to charges filed in Clay County.

According to the criminal complaint, Alexander Cookson was arrested on Dec. 14 on charges of criminal sexual conduct against a female victim. He was held on judicial hold and made his first appearance on the charges on Dec. 18.

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Alex Cookson (credit: Clay County)

A detective later obtained and listened to calls Cookson made in jail over the weekend after his arrest and before his first court appearance. On Saturday, Dec. 16, he called a third party multiple times.

The detective heard Cookson say the following to the third party in a series of phone calls:

• “I was just thinking I want to word this right… what kind of money does it take to make this go away … tell her you will help her get a house.” The third party responded by saying “I already said all of those things.”
• “Flat out tell her you will buy her a trailer house … whatever it takes.”
• “This has to be done before Monday.”
• “Tell her you’ll get her a house and get her away from there if she gets rid of this on Monday.”
• “You gotta work her” and “she will buckle”

Cookson also allegedly told the third party to ask the victim about Christmas presents for her children.

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The detective obtained the victim’s phone and text message records, which revealed that the third party called and texted her multiple times.

In one text message, the third party indirectly references a house payment:

“I don’t know what’s going on with this whole mess, but now I will have to go spend “$10,000 or more on a lawyer to fight these very serious charges. That’s a lot of money that I could put down on a house payment, among other things. I would give anything to go back in time and erase everything that just happened. You don’t have to be with him, that is fine, but I am begging you to please not ruin his life. My question for you is, what can I do to help you? I really do want to help you and that’s because I care about you and your kids a lot. You know I would go out of my way to do just about anything to help you …”

The detective also found multiple text messages where the third party sends messages to the victim about purchasing presents for her children.

Cookson is charged with attempted bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery, both felonies, with the intent to influence testimony. Both charges carry a maximum punishment of 5 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

In addition to the pending criminal sexual conduct case, Cookson has pending charges of malicious punishment of a child and fifth-degree assault in Clay County.

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Cookson has a lengthy criminal history that includes burglary, receiving stolen property, theft, DWIs and drug paraphernalia.