Salon Worker Charged with Sexual Assaults in Eden Prairie, St. Louis Park Incidents

Richards was granted a public defender and was offered conditional release on $50,000 bail. Jail records show that Richards was released from jail on Saturday night after posting bail.

Leslie Daniel Richards, Courtesy_ Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office

WARNING: This report contains details about sexual assaults that some may find upsetting.

A Mound man who now works as a hair stylist in Edina is facing sexual assault charges in two cases spanning several months in the cities of St. Louis Park and Eden Prairie.

The separate criminal complaints filed in Hennepin County last week accuse Leslie Daniel Richards of forcefully sexually assaulting two different women on different occasions.


In August 2019, St. Louis Park police began an investigation after a woman reported that she’d been sexually assaulted approximately a year earlier, in May 2018, by a former co-worker, according to the first criminal complaint.

The victim told police she worked at the Spalon Montage salon in Edina at that time and identified Richards as another hair stylist who also worked there at the time. She said that in early May 2018, she had invited Richards to her apartment, located in St. Louis Park, MN. The complaint stated that Richards told her he wanted to talk about their similar drinking issues.

When Richard arrived at the apartment, he and the victim talked for a while but at one point Richards started pushing her into the bedroom. The victim told Richards that she didn’t want to go in the bedroom, but he pushed her down on the bed. The victim tried to push herself away, but Richards confined her and told her to “let it be natural.” 

Richards proceeded to pull the victim’s clothing off and pinned her on the bed and sexually assaulted her while the victim continued to resist. 

After the assault ended, Richards got dressed and said goodbye to her as if nothing happened, the complaint stated.

The victim said that in later contacts with Richards, he continued to talk to her as if the altercation had been consensual. She told police that she delayed reporting the incident because she had tried to convince herself that it didn’t happen. However, after confiding in friends, the victim said she later learned that Richards may have done the same thing to others. That’s when she decided to come forward.

Upon further investigation, one of the victim’s friends was able to provide text messages to police dated May 8, 2018, in which the victim had confided to the friend details about the sexual assault that she said happened a couple of days earlier. In the messages, the victim told the friend that she tried to resist several times, but eventually “froze and stopped fighting.”


During the course of the investigation into the first case, St. Louis Park police received information regarding another assault involving Richards and another victim.

As a result, Eden Prairie police investigators met in December 2019 with a female victim regarding the second alleged assault. The victim told police that the assault occurred several months earlier, on or about July 6, 2019, at the Sola Salon where she worked, located in Eden Prairie. 

Sola Salon is a national company that leases individual studio spaces inside multi-unit locations to independent stylists and other owner-operated salon service providers. The company operates numerous locations in the Twin Cities and across the country.

According to the second criminal complaint, the victim was an esthetician and makeup artist and rented a room at the salon. She said she knew Richards because he was a hairdresser who also rented a room at the salon just down the hall from her. 

The victim told police that on the afternoon of July 6, 2019, she was in her rented space at the salon. A client had just left, and she was cleaning up when Richards entered the room, shut the door and closed the blinds. 

Richards then told her he was going to give her a massage. The victim told Richards she didn’t want a massage, but he didn’t listen. Richards grabbed her shoulders, neck, buttocks and breasts and then pulled her dress up over her head, leaving her in her underwear. The victim tried to cover up and told Richards several times to stop but he ignored her. Richards then sexually penetrated the victim with his fingers for approximately a minute, the complaint stated. 

Richards then unzipped his pants and began sexually rubbing on the victim’s leg. The victim said she panicked at that point and Richards stopped. The victim told police that Richards thanked her before leaving the room. The victim said she was left shocked and in a daze.

The victim told police that Richards acted like everything was fine, and that she initially didn’t report the incident because she felt guilt and ashamed and wondered if she was at fault. 

The victim eventually reported Richards to the salon owners but did not report the incident to police at that time. Richards was asked to leave the salon, the complaint said.


Police eventually interviewed Richards in both cases. He admitted to having sexual intercourse with the first victim, but claimed it was consensual. Richards also admitted to giving the second victim a massage, also claiming it was consensual. When specifically asked, Richards also stated he may have digitally penetrated the second victim’s vagina.

Richards, whose address on the complaints is listed on the 4400 block of Denbigh Road in Mound, has been charged in each case with one felony count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct involving force or coercion.

Both complaints were filed in Hennepin County on March 25 and warrants were issued for Richards’ arrest. 

Jail and court records show that Richards was booked into Hennepin County Jail just before 1 a.m. on March 26 and he made his first court appearance at 1:30 p.m. the same day.

Richards was granted a public defender and was offered conditional release on $50,000 bail. Jail records show that Richards was released from jail on Saturday night after posting bail.

The complaints state that Richards could face a maximum of 15 years on prison on each count if convicted.

Court records reveal no prior convictions for Richards, which means he has a presumptive criminal history score of zero for sentencing purposes if convicted on the new charges. The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Grid for Sex Offenders lists a maximum sentence of 57 months for offenders with a low or zero criminal history score if convicted on that level of offense.

An internet search for Richards leads to a website and Facebook page that states he operates a studio within Salon Concepts on West 69th Street in Edina. Richards’ website profile states that he is a native of South Africa and that he is married with two children.

Richards is scheduled to make his next court appearance in both cases on April 23.

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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota.

Crime Watch MN

Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.