Article Last Updated: 10/10/2008 08:56:57 AM CDT
St. Paul police are investigating a veteran teacher at Humboldt Junior High School after a teenage special-education student accused him of having sex with her on his classroom desk.
John Bernard Mauer, 58, has not been charged with a crime.
The girl told a school principal that, during the previous school year, Mauer had brushed against her breast area while leaning over her and showed her pictures of himself as a young man wearing nothing but his underwear, according to a search warrant filed Thursday in Ramsey County District Court.
Mauer did not return phone messages left at his home.
Doug Dooher, spokesman for the state teachers union Education Minnesota, said Mauer, if he desires, can get legal representation from his local, the St. Paul Federation of Teachers.
The search warrant, signed by Sgt. Jeffrey Keller, provides the following details:
The girl's mother noticed some behavioral changes in her daughter during the past school year, including episodes of incontinence. At the time, the mother believed this was due to stress at Humboldt, so she transferred the girl to another school over the summer.
On Sept. 19, Mauer showed up at the new school, telling the assistant principal that he was there to see a colleague. He also inquired about the girl and asked to speak to her.
The assistant principal led Mauer to the girl's classroom. The girl stepped outside and the two talked; the assistant principal did not hear the conversation. The girl then returned to her classroom. After Mauer said hello to his colleague, he asked to say goodbye to the girl and again was escorted to her classroom.
The girl told her mother about Mauer's visit, saying he had "told her that she looked nice because she had lost weight and looked pretty in her skirt."
The mother became suspicious. There were incidents involving Mauer from the previous year that gave her pause, she later told police — including two occasions in which Mauer called the girl's home outside school hours and left messages for her, inquiring about her well-being.
On Sept. 22, the mother called school officials and reported her concerns about Mauer's visit. The school principal and a social worker interviewed the girl. She told them about the incidents last year involving Mauer's contact with her breast area and showing her the pictures of himself.
As required by law, the district notified the state, and police began investigating.
According to Denise Quinlan, executive director of middle grades for the St. Paul Public Schools, Mauer was placed on paid administrative leave Sept. 25, based on the allegations that surfaced in the initial interview with the girl.
Later, on Sept. 29, the girl was interviewed at Midwest Children's Resource Center at Children's Hospital, where she disclosed details about the alleged sexual assault in the classroom.
She said that on one occasion, Mauer put her on his desk, turned the lights off, pulled her pants down and penetrated her. He then told her not to tell anyone.
Humboldt Principal Timothy Williams told police that on Sept. 19, Mauer had left school unexpectedly, saying he had a doctor's appointment. When Williams pressed Mauer about the visit to the other school, Mauer said that his doctor's appointment ran long and that he stopped by the other school to see a colleague.
Quinlan said that the district hired Mauer in 1993 and that he has been at the Humboldt campus since then. His current assignment is as a teacher in the special education program, which focuses on students with "significantly below-average intelligence," according to a message Mauer wrote about himself for the school's Web site.
He also coaches baseball and other sports at the high school level, district officials said. His salary is $71,800.
Before working in St. Paul, Mauer taught at Hill-Murray High School and Cretin High School, according to the district. He earned a graduate degree in special education from St. Cloud State University.
Quinlan said Mauer has one disciplinary complaint, which concerned attendance issues, such as leaving early, and other job responsibilities, in 2001. He received a written reprimand.
Officials were preparing to send a letter home to Humboldt Junior High families Thursday night. The letter does not name Mauer.
Quinlan said the district was continuing its internal investigation.
"School should be the safest place in the world for kids to go to," she said.
Police searched Mauer's St. Paul home, two rooms at Humboldt Junior High and the district office. From his home, they took a laptop computer and other computer equipment.
Humboldt Junior High, which serves students in the seventh and eighth grades, is on St. Paul's West Side.
Emily Gurnon can be reached at 651-228-5522.
To read the letter that was sent home to Humboldt Junior High School families, go to twincities.com