correction

This story originally misreported the number of Minnesota state troopers suspended after a high-speed chase that injured several children in 2018. Only Kuehne was suspended.

Minnesota State Trooper Albert Kuehne sat in his cruiser in March 2020 and scrolled through a phone belonging to a 25-year-old woman he’d just detained on suspicion of drunken driving. As paramedics evaluated the woman, who had crashed her car, he clicked through her photos.

Hours later, the woman’s boyfriend noticed something alarming on her MacBook, which was synced to her phone: Outgoing texts messages to an unknown phone number with nude and partly clothed pictures of the woman attached.

When they called that unfamiliar number, Kuehne answered.

This week, because of that discovery, Kuehne, 37, admitted that he sent himself three explicit photos of the woman, and then deleted the outgoing messages on the woman’s phone to try to cover his tracks.

Kuehne pleaded guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor charge of nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images, according to court records. Kuehne, a member of the Army Reserve, will be sentenced later this month.

A lawyer for Kuehne did not immediately respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment.

Kuehne, who lives in Dayton, Minn., a suburb almost 30 miles northwest of downtown Minneapolis, was placed on administrative leave in May last year and was ultimately fired in October.

“We hold troopers to a high standard, and the conduct outlined in this complaint is reprehensible and inconsistent with the core values of the Minnesota State Patrol,” a Minnesota State Patrol spokesman told KSTP.

Kuehne had previously been suspended after a 2018 high-speed chase, which ended with the suspect running his car into a playground and hitting three children ages 2, 3 and 4. Two of the children were severely injured; all three survived. Local authorities questioned the merit of the chase, which occurred in a residential area.

But Kuehne later returned to duty. On March 25, 2020, he responded to a call about a one-vehicle car crash off Interstate 94 in Minneapolis. When he arrived at the scene after 4 p.m., he detained the driver because he suspected that she had been driving under the influence, according to court records.

Video from a camera in the cruiser showed the woman in Kuehne’s back seat, using her cellphone to make a call. Once she hung up, Kuehne told her to “give me the phone now,” the complaint said.

Minutes later, as paramedics treated the woman, Kuehne went through the phone, found the images and texted them to himself.

“The images in question show Victim either nude or partially nude. Two of the photos show Victim’s exposed breasts,” the complaint said.

The camera in the patrol car showed the trooper alone in his vehicle with the phone at 4:44 p.m. — the same time stamp as the text messages.

The woman was home later that evening when her boyfriend noticed the text messages on her computer. Although Kuehne deleted the messages from the woman’s phone, they still appeared on her computer, which was synced to her iCloud account.

“Victim’s boyfriend contacted the unknown phone number and the person on the other end of the call eventually identified themselves as the defendant,” the complaint said.

The woman then contacted a lawyer who reported the incident to police. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension opened an investigation.

During interviews with investigators, the woman “denied giving the defendant permission to access her phone. She denied giving the defendant permission to view photos of herself or to send himself the photos,” court documents said.

Law enforcement officers arrested and charged Kuehne in June 2020 with two felony counts of harassment with bias, because the victim is a woman.

Kuehne’s charges were reducedto a misdemeanor on Tuesday after he took a plea deal.