A former Forest Lake middle school teacher is accused of sexually assaulting two boys – his former students – multiple times at his home.
James Carter, 56, of Forest Lake, is charged with two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection to the assaults on the two boys, now ages 16 and 17.
“Protecting children is our greatest priority. The defendant wholly abused his position of authority as a teacher and trusted adult to these young boys. This abuse and breach of trust erodes the very foundation of our education system and will never be tolerated," Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said in a statement.
Carter resigned from his position as the industrial tech teacher at Forest Lake Area Middle School on Wednesday, before the Forest Lake Area School District was aware of the charges against him, the Pioneer Press reports. He started with the district in 2012.
According to the criminal complaint, Carter paid several of his students and former students to do work at his home and other properties. With two of his victims, he provided them with gifts, bought them meals at restaurants and would attend church together (either in person or online at Carter's home).
Carter befriended one of his victims, who is now 16, after the victim got into a fight at school. The complaint said Carter massaged his groin area on six occassions.
The 16-year-old victim on Aug. 18, 2020, disclosed the abuse to his 17-year-old friend, who also said Carter abused him, the complaint said.
The 17-year-old victim was a student in Carter's shop class when he was in eighth- and ninth-grades, the complaint said. Carter pursued a friendship with the victim and from December 2018 to August 2020, he bought the victim gifts, including a dirt bike. On at least one occassion, he massaged the victim's groin.
When investigators were executing a search warrant on Carter's home, a 16-year-old boy, who was also a student of Carter's, showed up to work, the complaint said.
According to charges, in addition to the two victims and the third boy, there were nine other high school-aged boys that were identified as students who "worked" for Carter on various projects.