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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Minnesota teacher accused of sexual misconduct with children

A veteran elementary school teacher in the Benson Public Schools district has been arrested and charged with sexual misconduct after a camera allegedly captured him engaging in sexual contact with three students between the ages of 7 and 8 last week.

Roger Joseph Ebnet, 59, was taken into custody on Friday and formally charged with three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct on Monday in Swift County District Court. The youngsters were positioned between his legs and their hands were placed on his crotch, according to the charge papers.

On Monday, bail was imposed at $200,000 without conditions and $25,000 with conditions by Judge Keith Helgeson. Electronic GPS tracking, no contact with the claimed victims or any young children, no access to the Benson Public Schools’ facilities, and a four-hour wait in release after posting bond to enable the victims to be informed are all conditions of release with the reduced bail amount.

As of Monday at 3:30 pm, Ebnet was still being held at the Yellow Medicine County Jail. The next time he goes to court is on December 14.

The criminal complaint states that on Friday, an officer from the Benson Police Department in west-central Minnesota watched a videotape from a classroom at Northside Elementary School.

The claimed recording dates back to December 1 and shows Ebnet sat on a chair with his primary school kids seated on a mat in front of him. The complaint does not specify the overall number of youngsters present.

Three different young guys, all under the age of 18, are said to have sat between Ebnet’s legs at different occasions. In the complaint, it is said that Ebnet seems to have the kids turn their backs on him and shut their eyes.

According to the lawsuit, Ebnet can be seen putting the boys’ hands behind their backs and behind his crotch region as he walks behind them in the video.

While the other students had their eyes closed, the court record reveals how Ebnet spent four minutes with one boy’s hand on his crotch.

When Ebnet is not adjusting his crotch region, he can be seen playing with a boy’s hair and putting a hand on the kid’s right buttock.

Similar conduct is seen in a second video from November 30 in which Ebnet has one of the three youngsters sitting between his knees and clutches the boy’s hands. According to the complaint, even after the youngster took his hands away, Ebnet continued to wriggle about in his seat.

Benson Public Schools announced its knowledge of the criminal case against Ebnet on its Facebook page over the weekend, writing that it “takes the safety and security of our students very seriously” and that it “has been cooperating and will continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement in its investigation.”

According to the district’s video surveillance policy, cameras may be installed in school buildings and on school grounds. Restroom and locker room surveillance is prohibited without the consent of the superintendent, but is allowed under certain conditions.

The policy does not distinguish between classrooms and other school common spaces.

According to the post, the school system has placed Ebnet on paid administrative leave and is keeping the details of the situation under wraps.

Ebnet has been an educator for almost three decades and was honored as a 2017 Educator of Excellence by the Minnesota Rural Education Association.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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