Minneapolis teacher charged in online sex sting - KMSP-TV

Charges: Minneapolis teacher busted in sex sting was looking for high school girls

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Joel Fowler, a teacher at Olson Middle School in Minneapolis, was charged Thursday with two counts of electronic solicitation of a child following his arrest in a St. Paul police undercover investigation.

According to the charges, Fowler, 23, posted an ad on Craigslist looking for sex with a recent high school graduate or soon-to-be high school graduate.

THE CRAIGSLIST AD

“High School – m4w – 23.”

A photo of 4 young women in graduation caps accompanied Fowler’s Craigslist ad, which read:

“It’s graduation season. I’m looking for a soon-to-be or recent high school graduate who wants to play with a just out of college guy. I was just at a HS graduation and watching the girls really made me miss high school and the fun those girls are! I live in the West Metro. 23 years old. 190lbs. 6’1”. I’m DDF and ready to get to know someone younger than me.”

THE BUST

A St. Paul police sergeant responded to the ad, posing as a 14-year-old girl and writing, “gonna be 15 in July.” Fowler responded with a request for a photo.

The emails led to a meeting in Cherokee Park, where Fowler said he would arrive in a silver Honda Accord. When officers arrested Fowler, he had two condoms in his front pocket and two condoms in his back pocket.

Fowler told police he is a middle school teacher and has a master’s degree in education. He called in sick the day he was arrested.

When asked if he solicited sex from a minor, Fowler replied, “Not intentionally.” He explained that he met someone online and was going to meet them when he was stopped by the police. Fowler denied knowing the age of the person he was going to meet and denied she had told him her age. They were going to meet at 1:30 p.m. and "see what happened."

When asked if that meant he was going to have sex with her, Fowler admitted, “Eventually.”

“Every one of those situations it's very clear to the defendant and the accused that the person on the other end of the line or the other side of that conversation is a minor,” Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said.

MINNEAPOLIS PUBLIC SCHOOLS STATEMENT

"Mr. Fowler was placed on administrative leave as soon as information regarding his arrest was shared with the school district. He will not return to Olson Middle School. We find the detailed information outlined in the criminal complaint to be morally reprehensible. We simply will not and cannot tolerate this type of behavior in any way. Police indicate that the incident did not occur on school grounds and did not involve any MPS students."

OTHERS ARRESTED IN STING OPERATION

- Derek Field, 23, of Apple Valley

- Trevor Franke, 30, of Rosemount

- Robert Hagen, 43, of St. Paul

The arrests of Field, Fowler and Franke were part of the nationwide Operation Broken Heart. St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith said the operation is ongoing and they expect more arrests in the near future.

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