Former boarding-school teacher Lynn P. Seibel pleaded guilty Friday to seven felony counts for molesting students at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault, Minn., telling the judge he was ashamed of his actions.
Seibel, 71, of Faribault, had served as a drama teacher and dorm parent at the school. He had been charged with 17 felony counts for allegedly molesting six boys between 1996 and 2003.
A criminal complaint filed in Rice County District Court alleged he threw “naked dance parties” in which he would touch and measure the teen’s penises and engage in masturbation with them. He’s also been charged with possessing child pornography.
Seibel apologized to his victims, their families and his own family at the Friday hearing in Faribault. His attorney, James Martin, said Seibel wanted to spare his victims having to testify in a trial.
“He simply wants to not have anybody have any more pressure and problems because of what he has done,” Martin said.
“He certainly would have liked to take back what he has done. He admitted he abused his position of authority, and he is quite frankly ashamed of it, wanting to do whatever he can to rectify it for somebody else. And about all he can do at the present time is make sure it never happens again.”
The 155-year-old boarding school is known as a birthing ground for elite athletes and future leaders. A lawsuit filed a month ago claims that the Episcopalian prep school turned a blind eye to the sex games and sexual abuse orchestrated by Seibel. That suit remains open.
In the criminal case, the pleas on Friday averted a trial in which Rice County Attorney Paul Beaumaster said he was prepared to subpoena all six victims to testify against Seibel, a Hollywood actor for years.
“I appreciate that he was accepting responsibility and he has cooperated with the investigation,” Beaumaster said. “He gave a full statement admitting what he had done … and apologized at the same time. I don’t know that there’s much more that we could ask of a defendant.”
Sentencing Oct. 4
Seibel pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, five counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and a seventh count of using minors in a sexual exhibition.
Under the agreement, on Oct. 4 Seibel is likely to be sentenced by Rice County District Judge Christine Long to four years and four months in prison on the second-degree charges, Beaumaster said.
On the five counts involving the other five victims, Beaumaster said prosecutors will seek consecutive sentences. Under the state sentencing guidelines, those are expected to draw stayed sentences with probation — for up to 25 years.
“He’d be on supervised release, would have to register as a (sexual) offender, and would be given a threat-assessment number,” Beaumaster said.
Seibel could also be recommended for a civil commitment as a sexual predator, but that typically happens when offenders do not follow their treatment plans in prison, Beaumaster said.
The school released this statement Friday night:
“As parents, as educators, as individuals, we’re pleased that the judicial process has worked to deliver a just resolution of the very serious charges against Lynn Seibel. We’re very appreciative of the hard work and consistent professionalism of both the Rice County Attorney and the Faribault Police Department.”
Other teachers under fire
In all, four teachers have been accused of sexual misconduct at the school in recent months, following the allegations against Seibel.
Criminal charges filed in November against Joseph C. Machlitt, 64, of St. Paul, alleged the former dorm parent and art teacher had sex with a 14-year-old male student and was under investigation for contact with another. Those charges were dismissed this spring after Machlitt’s attorney argued that the statute of limitations had expired.
Another employee of the school also has been under investigation for allegedly sexually abusing a student between 1980 and 1992.
And authorities revealed that Len Jones, a teacher who committed suicide in 2008, had been accused of having a three-year relationship with a female exchange student.
Seibel resigned in 2003 after school officials found child porn on his computer.
The suit filed against the school in June alleged that administrators at Shattuck St. Mary’s were told at least twice about inappropriate sexual conduct between Seibel and students as far back as 2000.
His criminal attorney said Seibel does not have much money or personal assets to pay victims in the civil suit.