Skip to main content

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


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.

Next Up

Kirill Kaprizov

2nd period surge leads Wild to fourth straight win

With three goals in the second, the Wild blasted the last-place Coyotes.

Gopher Basketball / R.J. Stephens

Late-tip in helps Gophers pass first big test, improve to 6-0

Luke Loewe's bucket with 2.4 seconds remaining helped the Gophers stay undefeated.


Man, 40, found dead stuck in air duct at his Otter Tail Co. home

The discovery was made by family members Monday morning.

Biden Minnesota visit stream screengrab - 11.30.31

What Biden said during his visit to Minnesota Tuesday

The president spoke at Dakota County Technical College.

Grand Marais

Cook County registers its first COVID-19 death of the pandemic

The sparsely populated, highly-vaccinated county has continuously had one of the lowest rates of COVID in the state.

Waits family screengrab CNN

Support for MN family after anti-maskers target child of school board chair

An online group opposing Kelsey Waits outed the child as transgender.

Pixabay - school - classroom

St. Paul schools add 2 days to winter break due to pandemic stress

The added days off are meant to acknowledge the stress the pandemic has caused.

Fardoussa Abdillahi

Charges: St. Cloud mother killed baby, placed him in dumpster

The 4-month-old baby was found by officers on Sunday morning.


1 dead in crash at Lake Street intersection in south Minneapolis

There have been 465 deaths on Minnesota roads this year, according to the state's traffic division.


St. Paul restaurateur's businesses burglarized a 6th time

The owner of The Gnome and Hope Breakfast Bar is asking politicians to help St. Paul business owners.

North Memorial Air Care

Teen suffers life-threatening injuries in head-on crash in southern MN

The 18-year-old was airlifted to a Mayo Clinic hospital in Rochester.