St. Paul teacher is fired over porn allegations, but he won't be charged

  • Updated: December 12, 2008 - 9:41 PM

The Ramsey County attorney's office said Friday that it has declined to file felony charges against a substitute teacher who was accused of viewing pornography on a classroom computer at a St. Paul charter school.

The 40-year-old man was released from the county jail just after 11 a.m. Friday. He was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of distributing pornography to a child at Community of Peace Academy, 471 Magnolia Av., police said. Two ninth-grade students, ages 14 and 15, saw the teacher viewing pornographic photos on the computer on Dec. 4.

Authorities said the pictures were not of child pornography.

Police later searched the man's house in St. Paul and seized computer-related items, according to court documents.

Phil Carruthers, head of the county attorney's office prosecution division, said while authorities "certainly don't agree with the alleged conduct," there was a problem applying the correct statute.

"[The suspect] allegedly was not trying to have anybody see the pornography, other than himself, so it didn't really seem to rise to the level of distribution of pornography," Carruthers said.

Tim McGowan, principal for grades 7-12 at the school, said the teacher was dismissed last Friday when administrators became aware of the allegations. School policy forbids viewing sexually explicit material, McGowan said.

McGowan said the substitute teacher had worked at the school this past year and also previously, but McGowan said he couldn't be more specific. "The teacher in question had a clear background," he said.

Community of Peace began in 1995. The school has 684 students, pre-K through 12.

PAT PHEIFER

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