MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A middle school shop teacher for Forest Lake Area Schools is accused of sexually abusing teenage boys whom he had over to his home to work on projects for cash.

James Carter, 56, of Forest Lake, is charged with two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct (position of authority and threat of harm) and one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, court documents filed this week in Washington County show.

“The defendant wholly abused his position of authority as a teacher and trusted adult to these young boys,” Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said, in a statement. “This abuse and breach of trust erodes the very foundation of our education system and will never be tolerated.”

According to a criminal complaint, two middle school-aged boys reported that Carter would touch their groin area while giving them massages at this home. One of them was a shop student; the other was boy had Carter as an advisor.

The boys told investigators that they were 15 when they were first touched. Both had similar stories, involving Carter buying them gifts or food, and inviting them over to watch church services or work odd jobs for cash.

For one victim, the gifts were lavish, including a $5,000 lawn mower. The other victim described Carter as a “nice guy” whom he initially trusted.

When alone at Carter’s home, the boys said he would ask if they wanted a massage. The massage would eventually involve him touching the boys’ groin and/or buttocks over their clothes.

“This is just between us,” he allegedly told one of the boys whom he’d massaged more than once, the complaint states. That victim reported that he feared saying no to Carter, as the teacher had shown him his gun collection and he thought Carter might hurt him if he refused.

Per the complaint, Carter would often slap boys he had over to work on the buttocks. He’d also hug them before they left and engage in “sack slapping,” where he’d tap the boys’ testicles as though it were a game.

Investigators say that when they were executing a search warrant at the home, another teenage boy showed up there to work. According to the complaint, nine other high school-aged boys worked for Carter at his home.

If convicted of the criminal sexual conduct charges, Carter faces up to 60 years in prison.

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