A court order was filed against James Whalen on July 20 in Polk County.
A former Grand Forks Central High School Biology teacher is charged in Minnesota with third-degree criminal sexual conduct after crossing state lines to engage in sexual activity with a minor student. A court order was filed against James Whalen on July 20 in Polk County.
According to the complaint, on February 22, a Grand Forks Central student’s stepfather reported to the Central High principal Marlon Kasowski that he found inappropriate text messages on his stepdaughter's phone from a teacher at school. After Kasowski cross-referenced the cell number and confirmed it belonged to Whalen, the principal, associate principal, student and student’s stepfather met in a conference room to go through the text messages. The school made copies of all the texts between the student and Whalen before meeting with Whalen later that day.
During a conference with Whalen, he admitted to inappropriate activity between himself and the student. Whalen said they “clicked” and that the relationship made him feel good. He admitted that kissing and more than kissing took place, said the complaint.
The Central High associate principal asked Whalen if they had sex and Whalen responded with, “Define sex.” After the associate principal answered with “intercourse”, Whalen said they had sexual intercourse one time plus they had engaged in oral sex.
Later the same day, the student’s stepfather called back to the school to say that the student admitted their relationship was sexual.
On February 23, a Grand Forks Police Department sergeant met with the student to record a statement. She said Whalen was her AP Biology teacher and she had a crush on him but kept it to herself as she knew it was wrong. Soon, she started to go to Whalen for help after school and later told him she had feelings for him. Whalen told her that the feelings were mutual. The student said she and Whalen traveled to Kelly’s Slough near Grand Forks, made out and watched the sun set. Then, after Christmas break, they went over to Crookston to a church. When they found the church was locked, they went to a remote area on a dirt road outside of town, climbed in the back seat and had intercourse. She said Whalen threw the condom out the window when they were finished and they drove back to Grand Forks, said the complaint.
The student told law enforcement they had another sexual incident in Minnesota after the one in Crookston.
In March, in an interview with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the student said Whalen mentioned that he wanted to show her a staircase in a park so they drove to Huot Park outside of Crookston. There, they saw a statue of Mary, the staircase and a lit candle. The student drew a map for law enforcement and pointed to an area one-mile south of Highway 2 near Crookston on 290th Avenue SW and County Road 61. She said that is where they had sex. The student confirmed on a map that the second incident was in Huot Park.
Whalen will appear Tuesday, August 9 in Polk County District Court on the sexual conduct charge, a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, a fine of $30,000 or both.
Whalen is also charged with two counts of corruption or solicitation of minors after the same student said they had sexual relations, including intercourse at Central High School and at his home. He was later charged with additional counts of corruption or solicitation of minors and sexual assault, but the two cases in North Dakota will be combined for trial.