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Child-pornography charges were dropped Tuesday against a 36-year-old St. Charles man, with the Winona County Attorney’s Office citing “unique evidentiary issues” as the cause.

Dustin Patrick Ellringer was charged in 2019 with five counts of possession of child pornography after an investigation led by the Winona County Sheriff’s Office resulted in the discovery of various images and videos of a minor in stages of undress and performing sexual acts.

Ellringer came to the attention of authorities after a witness claimed to have found child pornography on Ellringer’s phone, which led to investigators finding numerous images and videos of a minor performing sexual acts and undressing, according to court documents.

In a Jan. 28 court decision, the court granted the defense’s request to view copies of the evidence in order to prepare for the prosecution. The request was granted on the condition that it only be viewed by the defense counsel or by the defendant in the presence of his counsel.

In the Feb. 4 dismissal, however, the county attorney’s office dismissed the charges against Ellringer by citing “unique evidentiary issues” and the District Court’s order compelling the state to reproduce the evidence of the child pornography.

The dismissal states that while the victim objects to the decision, the case’s lead investigator indicated that he finds dismissal appropriate.

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