A longtime Twin Cities special education teacher has been charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct with someone he met on a dating website.

Michael J. Lovestrand, 50, of Bloomington, was charged in Hennepin County District Court last week with in connection with the alleged assault in his apartment in April 2018.

Lovestrand was arrested over the weekend, had a court hearing Monday and was released from jail. His attorney said Thursday afternoon that her client will plead not guilty at his next court appearance.

Lovestrand was hired by the Mounds View School District in 2004 and worked with middle school and high school students with emotional and behavioral disorders, district spokesman Colin Sokolowski said Thursday. Lovestrand took a “series of leaves of absences” in June 2012, never returned and resigned from the district in 2016, Sokolowski said.

Lovestrand then joined the St. Paul School District in the same capacity in August 2015 at the Barack and Michelle Obama Elementary School until he left in June 2017, said district spokesman Kevin Burns.

As of Thursday, Lovestrand’s teaching license with the state remains active through the end of the month, according to the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board, which first licensed him in 1994. There was no information immediately available about whether he currently has a teaching job.

According to the criminal complaint:

A woman came forward to police in November 2019 and said the assault happened in April 2018, a couple of weeks after she and Lovestrand met on a dating website.

She went to his apartment, shared dinner and then went to his bedroom, where he forced her into sex.

She told her mother soon afterward what happened and was examined at a hospital two days later.

In January of this year, she identified Lovestrand in a police photo lineup.