School says they notified authorities years ago; authorities dispute that.
A former teacher at a Faribault prep school was charged Monday with having sexual contact with six students.
Former Shattuck-St. Mary's drama teacher Lynn Seibel was charged in Rice County District Court with 17 counts, including second-degree criminal sexual conduct, soliciting a child to engage in sexual conduct and using a minor in a sexual performance. He's also a professional actor and director.
The incidents allegedly happened from 1996 through 2003, and involved male students ages 15 to 18. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and police say the incidents allegedly took place in school classrooms and the dormitory.
Seibel, 70, was fired from the school in 2003, after child pornography was discovered on his computer, but police were apparently not informed and he was never charged, authorities said. He worked at Shattuck-St. Mary's, a college preparatory boarding school for grades sixth through 12th, from 1992 to 2003.
Seibel is in custody in Los Angeles on unrelated charges, the Star Tribune (http://bit.ly/VRCwuL) reported. He does not have an attorney in the Minnesota case, and phone messages left by The Associated Press with agents listed on Seibel's professional website weren't immediately returned.
In June, a community corrections agent from Olmsted County in southeastern Minnesota told police that a young man with whom she'd been working told her that Seibel had forced him and other students to sexually touch themselves in front of him. While investigating that allegation, police uncovered other former students who said they also had been abused, officials said.
According to the BCA, the school may have had information about allegedly inappropriate conduct by Seibel as early as 2001, when a complaint against him was made, but it appears that authorities outside the school were not notified. The investigation is ongoing.
However, Shattuck-St. Mary's said in a statement that it investigated allegations of sexual misconduct that a person made against Seibel in 2001, but the investigation did not corroborate those allegations — and it disclosed the investigation to the Rice County Department of Social Services and to the Faribault Police Department.
"To our knowledge, neither organization acted on those disclosures," the school said.
The school said it has been cooperating with authorities since learning of the investigation in August.
Seibel was "separated" from Shattuck-St. Mary's in 2003, after the school discovered pornographic material on his school-issued computer, the school said. While the material violated the school's code of conduct and was grounds for termination, the school said it consulted with its attorney and determined the material did not trigger a reporting requirement.
"The safety and well-being of our students has been, and will always be, Shattuck-St. Mary's highest priority," the school said.
At a news conference Monday, Faribault Police Chief Don Gudmundson said the investigation was a complex and sensitive case that had investigators traveling from coast to coast to find former students.
"One young man said, 'I don't know how long I have waited for you to come,'" Gudmunsdon said.
A Los Angeles police spokesman confirmed Monday that Seibel was being held in the Los Angeles County jail. A sheriff's spokesman said it wasn't clear if Seibel had attorney and he declined to relay a message to him from the AP seeking comment, citing policy.