Ex-St. Paul teacher is off to workhouse for sex with teen

  • Article by: PAT PHEIFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 26, 2007 - 9:19 PM

The former band teacher, in jail since violating a no-contact order with his onetime student, tearfully said he was sorry -- and was reminded what no contact means.

Joseph A. Tucker, a former band teacher who pleaded guilty to having a sexual relationship with a former student and then was found in her bedroom less than two weeks later, stood Friday before Ramsey County District Judge M. Michael Monahan and choked back sobs.

"Your honor, I know that what I did was wrong," said Tucker, 29, who taught at Como Park Senior High School in St. Paul. "I destroyed a community that I love very much, and I betrayed a great trust that I worked very hard to establish.

"I hurt a lot of people. I never intended to hurt anybody. I just want to start making it right, your honor. I'm so sorry."

Monahan then sentenced Tucker to 18 months in prison, staying the sentence but ordering him to serve 3 months in the workhouse.

The judge also ordered Tucker to register as a sex offender and to have no contact with the 17-year-old girl, at least until she is an adult, among other conditions.

Monahan told Tucker: "Your actions not only had an impact on the complaining witness in this case but had a broader impact on your other students and on the school itself.

"There's nothing like having a teacher appear on the front page of the newspaper to undermine the public's general confidence in the members of your former profession and the system they work in."

The relationship between Tucker and the girl was revealed in May, when two of her friends told school administrators that "she had been having an affair with the band teacher," the complaint said.

Tucker was married with two children, ages 1 and 3.

He pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct on Aug. 3. Nine days later, he scaled a ladder to the girl's bedroom, where the two were discovered by her father.

Tucker was charged with violating a no-contact order and has been held in the Ramsey County jail since then.

His attorney, Julie Matonich, told the court Friday that Tucker "clearly mistakenly used the worst possible judgment in this case, but he has paid dearly for that."

Matonich said that her client has lost his teaching license and will never teach again.

"He's broke, arguably depressed and he has not been able to see his children for almost three months," she said. "He is about as low, your honor, as a person can possibly be at this point."

After the sentencing, Monahan asked Tucker: "We don't need to go over, do we, what a no-contact order means?"No, your honor," Tucker said.

"That has become clear, has it?" Monahan said. "So, no Christmas cards, no Valentines, no flowers, no texting, no e-mails, no driving around the neighborhood."

Pat Pheifer • 651-298-1551

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