ST. CLOUD -- A judge has granted an accused Stearns County Sheriff's Sergeant a change of venue in his criminal sexual conduct case.

Judge Vicki Landwehr ruled Phil Meemken can have his trial moved out of Stearns County because of pretrial publicity. Judge Landwehr said given the significant media coverage of the case there is a reasonable likelihood the jury pool could be tainted by inadmissible evidence reported by the media.

The 41-year-old Meemken has been on paid administrative leave since December 2009 when he was charged with 22 felony counts of criminal sexual conduct, two counts of providing alcohol to minors and one count of child endangerment.

Judge Landwehr's ruling does not indicate where the trial will end up, but Meemken's lawyer is asking for Anoka, Ramsey, Hennepin or Washington County. Because of a conflict of interest in Stearns County, Anoka County prosecutor Wade Kish is handling the case, meaning it may end up in Anoka County.