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Superior gymnastics coach accused of sexual assault to undergo mental health evaluation

A federal judge ordered the psychological assessment for George Deppa upon a request from a defense attorney.

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DULUTH — A mental health evaluation has been ordered for a former Superior gymnastics coach who is accused of sexually assaulting multiple minors and producing child pornography.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Leo Brisbois last week granted a defense motion for determination of competence, writing that there is "reasonable cause to believe that the defendant may presently be suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent to the extent that he is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense.”

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George Deppa

The order allows George Francis Deppa, 49, to be committed to a suitable facility for psychological evaluation for a maximum of 30 days, with the court able to grant a possible extension of up to 15 days.

George Francis Deppa's trial, originally scheduled to start Tuesday, Sept. 27, has been moved to January.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsey Middlecamp did not object to the request, though she and defense attorney Kurt Glaser retain the right to present argument and evidence before the court makes a final determination of Deppa's competence.

While the evaluation was ordered in Deppa's federal pornography case, he's also facing five separate sexual assault cases in Minnesota and Wisconsin courts. It's not yet clear if the evaluation and its findings will impact those proceedings, as his first trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 17 in Douglas County Circuit Court.

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Deppa was first charged in Wisconsin in May 2021 with two counts of sexual assault of a child under 16 years of age and one count of exposing genitals. He is accused of sexually touching two teenage students and trying to "make out" with them while they were out for rides in his boat and during sleepovers at his Superior home, according to a criminal complaint.

A third count of sexual assault of a child under 16 years of age was filed roughly two and a half weeks later. It alleges that Deppa, a coach at Twin Ports Gymnastics, sexually touched a third student during a private coaching session. The victim reported the incident to her parents after seeing news coverage of Deppa's arrest for sexual assault.

In St. Louis County, Deppa is charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count each of second- and fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Deppa is accused of subjecting one Minnesota victim to "extreme inhumane conditions," routinely drugging the girl before molesting or raping her from the approximate ages of 8-16. The victim, according to a criminal complaint, said the number of abusive instances was "too high to count."

Court documents state that two other girls also came forward to tell authorities that Deppa provided them with pills before touching their genital areas. One was 13 or 14 at the time; the other was 17, according to the criminal complaints.

The federal indictment was levied in May 2022, charging Deppa with three counts of production of child pornography. In that case, authorities indicated they recovered three images of Deppa with a nude 15-year-old victim.

Deppa remained in the Douglas County Jail as of Wednesday. The federal court has ordered that he remain in custody without bail.

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or tolsen@duluthnews.com.
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