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Minn. acting instructor admits sexual conduct with students

Nicholas Charles Barghini Courtesy of the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office

ST. PAUL—Nicholas Barghini had a system. First, he instructed his young students to lie on their stomachs across chairs or a couch he set up for the private acting classes he taught at various St. Paul libraries last summer.

Next, after positioning himself at their feet and removing the students' socks and shoes, he told them to start reading from a monologue.

Then, with their heads facing away from him, he unzipped his pants and masturbated.

Standing beside his attorney in an orange prison jumpsuit, Barghini, 31, admitted in a Ramsey County courtroom Monday morning to repeating that conduct six times last summer.

His victims ranged in age from 9 to 11.

In one case, he admitted to touching an 11-year-old girl's foot with his genitalia while she read from a script inside a room at Merriam Park Library last July 15.

Barghini said little more than "That is correct," and "True" during the brief hearing as Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Tanya Olympia O'Brien and his own attorney, Debbie Lang, asked him to take responsibility for the crimes alleged against him.

Parents of some of the victims listened on from the front row in the courtroom.

The first charges were filed against Barghini late last July after one of his 10-year-old students told her mother that he had done "weird stuff" to her during an acting class.

After getting an insufficient explanation from Barghini about it, the woman went to the library where the class was conducted and asked to see surveillance footage.

The video captured Barghini removing her daughter's shoes and socks and burying his face in her feet while touching them and masturbating, court documents say.

The incident prompted police to investigate, and other victims to come forward.

Additional video discovered on Barghini's cellphone and laptop showed him engaging in similar behavior with other young students.

All of the victims' parents had responded to ads Barghini took out in newspapers and online for private acting classes he taught at Riverview and Merriam Park libraries in St. Paul, according to statements his attorney made in court Monday.

During their investigation, police also found a piece of paper in Barghini's wallet outlining his "sex goals," along with a desire to form a cult.

No. 5 on the list had rows of ages and columns listed underneath it. "Feet" and "other" were included on the list, and there were Xs marked in the pre-13 and 13-17 age categories, court documents say.

In total, Barghini faced one count of second-degree criminal-sexual conduct and three counts of fifth-degree criminal-sexual conduct.

He entered guilty pleas to all the charges Monday and is expected to be sentenced April 23.