Middle school shop teacher groomed and abused students

James Edward Carter, 56, of Forest Lake, Minnesota. [Image credit: Washington County Sheriff's Office]

In what assistant county attorney for Washington County, Siv Mjanger called "classic grooming behavior," a now former middle school shop teacher is accused of sexually assaulting at least two former students.


56-year-old James Carter began working with the Forest Lake Area School District in 2012 and resigned Wednesday the 26th before the school district was made aware of the charges against him.  The district then sent an email to parents later in the day confirming to them that he was no longer employed by the district.


“The news of these charges is alarming and disturbing to us,” Twin Cities Pioneer Press quoted the school officials as saying. “If you, or your child, have any information about this matter, we encourage you to reach out to your school administrator, counselor and law enforcement.”


In mid-August the boys, now 16 and 17, revealed to each other that they had been assaulted by Carter.  They then went to police.


The first boy, 16, met carter after he got into a fight at school and was assigned community service.  One of the ways in which he could serve that was to assist with cleaning Carter's classroom.  According to the boy's statement, Carter became his advisor, started hiring him to do odd jobs around his home and even began attending church with him.


The second boy, 17, was a student of Carter's. He too stated that he had been hired to do odd jobs.


Both reported that Carter offered them a "massage" in which he touched them inappropriately.  One of the boys is said to have quickly stood up and told the teacher "don't ever let that happen again," whereas the other, for fear of his own safety, felt that he could not deny the teacher.


"This is just between us," the boy stated Carter had told him.  He reported that Carter had also shown him his gun collection which led him to fear Carter may hurt him.


According to WCCO, while investigators were executing a search warrant at Carter's residence, another teenage boy showed up to do some work.  The complaint filed is said to assert that nine other high school-aged boys were hired by Carter for work in his home.


Carter has been charged with two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.


“The defendant wholly abused his position of authority as a teacher and trusted adult to these young boys,” Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said in a statement that also praised the boys "for having the courage to come forward."


“This abuse and breach of trust erodes the very foundation of our education system and will never be tolerated.”