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Ex-St. Paul school janitor who sexually abused says 'sorry' at sentencing

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A former St. Paul school janitor who pleaded guilty to sex abuse crimes that spanned decades will spend the next 10 years in prison.

Walter Happel, 63, apologized Thursday as he was sentenced for four charges brought against him – the other cases were dismissed as part of a deal he made with prosecutors in March.

“I’m sorry to everybody," he told the Ramsey County District Court judge, according to KSTP.

Happel has been accused of abusing some of his male relatives, and children at St. Paul schools where he worked as a custodian, but his actions went unpunished for decades, until February 2014, when he was accused of peeking at an 11-year-old boy through a bathroom stall at the Linwood Monroe school.

That prompted family members to come forward and tell prosecutors that they too were abused.

“This defendant, Walter Happel, has preyed on the innocence of children for over 30 years, and I am relieved that we can now hold him accountable for his crimes,” Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said in a statement after he pleaded guilty in March.

Happel must serve seven years in prison before he is eligible for parole, the Star Tribune reports.

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