A Benson, Minn., elementary teacher was charged with three counts of criminal sexual conduct Monday after he allegedly molested three different children during the school day while other kids were present.
That teacher, 59-year-old Roger Ebnet, has been placed on paid administrative leave, according to Benson Public Schools.
Ebnet has been a teacher for more than 30 years and currently works at Northside Elementary School.
He was arrested on Friday and booked into the Yellow Medicine County Jail after police allegedly obtained video of him molesting three boys between the ages of 7 and 8.
The first video was recorded Dec. 1 while class was in session.
According to the charges:
Ebnet sat on a chair and directed the students who were seated on a rug in front of him to close their eyes and turn away from him. He then had the first victim sit in between his legs and placed the boy’s hand under his groin area. For four minutes, the video shows Ebnet “squeezing his legs, moving his groin area up towards the child’s bottom/hand, [and] rocking back and forth.”
He did the same thing with two other children throughout the day and at one point placed his hand on the “upper right buttock” of one of the kids.
A video from Nov. 30 shows Ebnet repeating this behavior with one of the victims. In the video, Ebnet appears to forcibly place the child’s hands behind his back as Ebnet puts his arms around the child’s chest.
Ebnet is facing three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of up to 25 years in prison.
Ebnet was conditionally released on a bail amount of $25,000. His next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 14 in Swift County.
Ebnet was named an “Educator of Excellence” in 2017 by the Minnesota Rural Education Association. According to an announcement on the award, Ebnet has helped raise thousands of dollars for the district and volunteered to take over the operations of Benson’s “Kid Day.”
“It is easy to see that Roger Ebnet demonstrates excellence in the classroom, in the district, and the community,” Benson Public Schools Superintendent Dennis Laumeyer said at the time. “Roger has selflessly worked to improve his school and community. He truly embodies the positive characteristics of a rural educator of excellence.”