Jury finds CEO of Don's Car Washes guilty of lesser sex charge
FARGO — A jury has found Dan Durr, CEO and president of Fargo-based Don's Car Washes, guilty of hiring an individual to engage in sexual activity, a Class B misdemeanor.
Durr's defense attorney, Cash Aaland, hailed the decision Thursday, Nov. 2, as a vindication of his client, who had faced a felony charge of patronizing a minor for commercial sexual activity after his arrest last spring during a sting operation called Operation Guardian Angel.
At Durr's trial this week in Cass County District Court on the felony charge, Aaland asked that the jury be allowed to consider the misdemeanor charge in addition to the felony charge and the judge, Susan Bailey, allowed it.
In its verdicts, the jury found Durr not guilty of the felony charge of patronizing a minor for commercial sexual activity but guilty of the misdemeanor charge of hiring an individual to engage in sexual activity.
Aaland said he told the jury that during plea negotiations Durr offered to plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge because he had responded to an online ad intending to hire an adult for sexual activity.
Aaland maintained that when Durr found out during communication with the undercover authorities running the sting that the person involved was underage, he tried to drive away. And Aaland said that was the main message he conveyed to the jury.
Durr was one of a number of men arrested in March as part of the Guardian Angel sting that targeted men accused of going to local hotels looking to hire minors for sex. Area law enforcement officials placed ads on websites and mobile apps through which contact with suspects was made. The apps included Grindr and Whisper, and the websites included Craigslist.com and Backpage.com.
When suspects responded to the ad, the young female, actually an undercover female detective, would represent herself as someone younger than 18, according to court documents.
Durr will be sentenced at a later date.