PINE CITY (AP) - Attorneys for a religious sect leader charged with sexually assaulting girls at his compound in rural Minnesota are questioning whether the statute of limitations has expired in the case.

Defense attorney Marsh Halberg says there was a prior report on Victor Barnard which would have started the legal clock on filing charges earlier than 2012. The 54-year-old Barnard was charged in 2014 with 59 counts of criminal sexual conduct after two of his former followers at River Road Fellowship told of his abuse starting when they were 12 and 13 years old.

The statute of limitations is three years from when a report is filed. Pine County Attorney Reese Frederickson says there is no direct victim report prior to 2012.

Barnard appeared briefly before a Pine County District Court judge Tuesday.