French Academy teacher sought on charge of molesting boy at school camp

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 2, 2010 - 9:38 PM

The French citizen fled the country a day before an arrest warrant was issued, and authorities are seeking to bring him back.

A former computer science teacher at the French Academy of Minnesota in St. Louis Park has been charged with molesting a 10-year-old student during a trip to the Concordia Language Village in Bemidji, Minn., according to a criminal complaint released Friday.

Adrien Massy, 29 and a French citizen, was fired and left the country, according to the complaint filed in Beltrami County and a search warrant and complaint filed in Hennepin County.

On June 9, the Beltrami County sheriff received the first of two reports of alleged sexual assaults on academy students who were at the camp for a school retreat in late May, according to the warrant.

On June 11, an arrest warrant for suspicion of criminal sexual conduct was issued for the male teacher, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement was notified. But it was too late. The teacher left the United States on June 10, the search warrant said.

Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp said Massy's last known location was Iceland. "We're working with the federal authorities to get him tracked down and returned to the country," Hodapp said. Iceland is a major hub for connecting flights to Europe from Minneapolis.

On June 10, a Medina boy told investigators that Massy touched him on the genitals through his pajamas while he was at the camp, the complaint said. The boy said Massy molested him while he was trying to sleep on his bunk. The boy said he sat up and told Massy to stop. Massy responded, "OK" and left the dorm, the boy said.

The boy also said he saw Massy "pretend to take pictures" of another boy in the shower. The boy said Massy claimed the camera wasn't on.

A second boy told investigators on June 11 that Massy touched his genitals and took pictures of him in the shower. The complaint against Massy said the investigation is still underway regarding the second boy.

Veronique Liebmann, director of the French Academy, confiscated the teacher's laptop and camera when she fired him. The Sheriff's Office took the computer and camera with the warrant. Investigators searched them for pornographic images of children. The sheriff declined to comment on what images, if any, were found.

Liebmann said, "We were shocked and saddened by the allegations. We are cooperating fully with the investigating authorities." She declined to answer questions.

Massy was in the country on an exchange program through the San Diego-based Amity Institute. The director of the institute told investigators that when Massy was fired, his visa was canceled, and he was given 30 days to leave the country.

Tiffany Bettancourt, a spokeswoman for the institute, said she couldn't comment on the case. She said Amity checks backgrounds on the several hundred teachers who come to the United States yearly. She said any criminal history would bar a teacher from participating in the program.

"We work with a great group of teachers," she said. "We bring international teachers here in an effort to build friendships, share culture, and then they return home."

The academy at 9400 Cedar Lake Road is an immersion school for students in preschool through fifth grade.

Christine Schulze, executive director of the language villages, said French Academy students are the only ones who were at the camp for a retreat. Massy was neither an employee of the villages, nor was he on contract with them. "We're obviously very concerned," she said. "The safety and well-being of students in any of our programs is absolutely our primary concern."

Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747

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