MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 48-year-old Chaska man has been charged with allegedly taking inappropriate pictures and having inappropriate contact with students at the schools he worked at, the Anoka County Attorney’s Office announced.
On Wednesday, David Harrell appeared in Anoka County District Court on numerous charges, including second-degree criminal sexual conduct, five counts of interfering with privacy and one count of possession of pornography involving minors.
Authorities say the investigation into Harrell began after the St. Francis School District Interim Superintendent Troy Ferguson reported some concerning conduct that was alleged against Harrell.
Harrell, who works with hearing impaired students, was allegedly seen with a young student sitting on his lap. At that time, he was placed on leave and his access to students was prohibited.
“As part of that process, their technology coordinator was looking at that teacher’s computer and found thousands of images of children on the computer,” Anoka County Sheriff’s Department Commander Paul Sommer said.
Some of the images depicted young students posed in compromising positions, authorities said. That’s when the sheriff’s office began its own investigation and review of the data.
Forensic computer detectives have since located thousands of photos on Harrell’s computer, some believed to be criminal in nature, authorities said.
According to the criminal complaint, the images showed children in various positions that focused on their private body parts. In others, children were posed in ways that showed their private parts and others were positioned to take pictures up skirts. The pictures were taken in the classrooms where Harrell worked with students.
“This is a distinct breach of community trust by an educator,” Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo said. “We are working with the victims and their families to ensure support services are available to them.”
In court, Harrell’s bail was set at $750,000 without conditions or $500,000 with conditions. His next court appearance is set for April 21, 2015.