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Benson, Minnesota, elementary teacher arrested for criminal sexual conduct

A second-grade teacher at Benson's Northside Elementary School was arrested Friday by the Benson Police Department. Roger Ebnet is in jail pending a court appearance on an expected charge of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. The charge can involve a sexual assault on an adult or a minor.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct that Roger Ebnet is, according to Superintendent Dennis Laumeyer, on unpaid leave from a teaching position with Benson Public Schools. A Facebook post from Benson Public Schools immediately after the arrest was apparently in error in reference to Ebnet's status.

BENSON — A Benson Public Schools elementary teacher was arrested Friday and is being held in the Yellow Medicine County Jail awaiting a court appearance on a criminal sexual conduct charge.

Roger Ebnet, a second-grade teacher at Northside Elementary School in Benson, was arrested by the Benson Police Department about 3 p.m. Friday, according to a Saturday afternoon post on the department’s Facebook page.

Roger Ebnet.jpg
Roger Ebnet

“Benson Police Department is in the process of conducting an investigation into this matter and is unable to comment further at this time,” the post said.

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Ebnet, 59, is likely to have a court appearance Monday or Tuesday, as authorities have a limited time in which to formally charge a person after arrest. His name is not on the Swift County District Court calendar for Monday, but court calendars are updated throughout each business day.

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After his court appearance, a description of the charges against him will become public and will provide more detail than has been provided by authorities so far.

The school district posted on its Facebook page Saturday afternoon to say school officials are aware of the pending criminal case against Ebnet. The post said the district “takes the safety and security of our students very seriously and has been cooperating and will continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement in its investigation.”

Ebnet is currently on unpaid administrative leave, according to Superintendent Dennis Laumeyer.

A person may be charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly having unwanted or coerced sexual contact with an adult or a minor. With minors, the state does not have to prove coercion if victims are young enough or if the alleged perpetrator has a position of authority or a significant relationship with them.

Ebnet has been a teacher for more than 30 years and was named a 2017 Educator of Excellence by the Minnesota Rural Education Association.

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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