Charges against ND principal accused of arson dismissed

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Charges against a former North Dakota principal accused of setting fire to the school he worked for have been dropped, KFYR-TV reports.

Thomas Sander, 30, of Trinity High School in Dickinson, was charged in March with felony arson and endangerment by fire after a blaze at the Catholic school caused major structural and smoke damage.

But on Monday at the state's request, the Jamestown Sun reports, a Southwest District Judge agreed to dismiss those charges. Stark County State’s Attorney Tom Henning told the paper there was simply not enough evidence to continue the case and expect a conviction.

The dismissal filing came last week, a few days after a judge threw out some evidence against Sander, KX Net reported. That evidence, the station said, included recorded police interviews in which the judge ruled Sander was not properly read his Miranda rights.

The judge also said Sander's comments during the interview – which reportedly included a confession – were coerced, and inadmissible, the Jamestown Sun reports.

The fire was started early on Monday, March 3. No injuries were reported.

The fire caused major structural and smoke damage to the building, according to media reports. The front office of the school, which opened in 1961, suffered the most fire damage, according to the Bismarck Tribune. Rev. Patrick Schumacher, the vice president of Dickinson Catholic Schools, told the Dickinson Press there also was “extensive damage” to the main floor. Most materials, such as textbooks, are unusable, the newspaper says.

Classes at the school were canceled for that week.

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