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Former Benson superintendent charged with criminal sexual conduct in Bemidji case

BEMIDJI - Cass Lake-Bena School District Superintendent Carl Eugene Remmers, 65, of Cass Lake, was charged Friday in Beltrami County District Court with one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, which is a serious felony.

If convicted, Remmers could face up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Remmers is the former superintendent of Benson Public Schools, where he worked from June 2000 until June 2006. He had previously worked as superintendent in South Dakota at Canton, S.D., Newell, S.D, Timber Lake, S.D. and Harold, S.D. He also worked as teacher, coach and principal at Polo, S.D.

According to the criminal complaint:

A 17-year-old boy said he had been inappropriately touched by Remmers while he was in Remmers' office in the Alternative Learning Center in Cass Lake.

The boy said Remmers drove him to Bemidji on July 18 to purchase some clothes. Afterwards, Remmers took the boy to a Bemidji hotel and reserved a room. The boy said Remmers approached him in the hotel room from the side and grabbed both his genitals and his buttock. The boy said Remmers told him that he wanted to see him naked.

The boy said he moved away from Remmers and sat down on the couch and watched a baseball game. He said he asked Remmers if they could go to a restaurant. The boy said they went to a restaurant and while they were there, Remmers gave him $100. The boy then excused himself to go the bathroom and left the building.

The boy said he grabbed his clothes out of Remmers' car and then jumped over the fence behind the restaurant. He said he then ran behind some businesses, through the cemetery and to a friend's house in Nymore.

According to the complaint, a Bemidji Police investigator checked with the hotel in question and confirmed that Remmers had rented the room on July 18. He was also able to confirm the purchase of the clothing items described by the boy at a Bemidji shopping center and also confirmed that those purchases had been made by Remmers.

Police then arranged for the boy to place a phone call to Remmers. During that conversation, Remmers said he did not know why he had touched the boy inappropriately, claiming that he had taken some pills. He said that he was sorry and asked the boy to forgive him. When the boy told Remmers he was going to report the incident, Remmers hung up on him.

According to a press release, the Cass Lake-Bena School District is aware of the criminal charges regarding Remmers and has placed him on paid leave pending completion of the investigation.

This is the only complaint the school district has received regarding Remmers since he commenced employment with the district in 2005.

According to Holly Evans, Cass Lake-Bena School District's Board of Education vice chair, the school board was made aware of Remmers' charges Monday morning. Evans said the school board has taken no position on the matter at this time.

"This is the first and only complaint on him," Evans said. "He has been placed on administrative leave and nothing has been decided as of right now."

The school district held a regular work session Monday evening at the District Resource Center. Evans said any matters regarding Remmers would be discussed in a closed session.