Updated: 10/04/2013 8:31 AM KSTP.com By: Maricella Miranda
Photo: Photo: KSTP File Photo
A former teacher at Shattuck-St. Mary in Faribault has pleaded guilty to multiple charges for having inappropriate sexual conduct with students.
Drama teacher Lynn Seibel, 71, pleaded guilty Friday, July 12, to seven of the 17 charges against him, including second-degree criminal sexual conduct, multiple counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and use of minors in pornographic material.
Shattuck-St. Mary is a college preparatory boarding school for students in the sixth through 12th grades.
Seibel, a professional actor and director, was a drama teacher and live-in "dorm parent" at Shattuck-St. Mary's from 1992 to 2003, when he left after child pornography was found on his computer. Police apparently were not told about that incident, and he wasn't charged.
In October 2012, he was charged with 17 counts, alleging that he abused six male students, ages 15 to 18, between 1996 and 2003. In a jailhouse interview in March, Seibel told Minnesota Public Radio News that he is innocent, and wants to return to acting in California.
Seibel could face more than four years in prison for the harshest charge - second-degree criminal sexual conduct, said Rice County Attorney Paul Beaumaster. The prosecution plans to ask for Seibel to be sentenced to probation for the other six charges.
He's scheduled to be sentenced in October.
Earlier this year, a former student filed a lawsuit claiming some administrators received reports about "naked dance parties" and other inappropriate sexual conduct that Seibel participated in with students, but did nothing about it and allowed him to continue teaching.
The lawsuit, filed in Rice County, also claims the school knew or should have known that Seibel was a danger and "child molester," yet negligently believed he was fit to work with students.
In addition, the lawsuit alleges the school breached its duty to provide a safe environment for students by exposing them to "an unfit agent with dangerous and exploitive sexual propensities."
The student filed the lawsuit under a new law that expands the statute of limitations for lawsuits filed by victims of child sex abuse, seeks damages for pain and distress.
The man, who claims he was abused when he was a teen, is not named in the lawsuit. The plaintiff claims he was abused by Seibel between 2000 and 2003.
While the nature of the abuse against this particular student isn't clear, the lawsuit outlines some of Seibel's alleged conduct. It claims that from 1996 to 2003, Seibel taught "AP Drama" classes, in which he brought groups of boys into an on-campus dorm room to watch pornography and masturbate.
Once a semester, Seibel also organized "naked dance parties" in the dormitory showers, in which he would dim the lights, turn on disco lights, and watch the boys shower, the lawsuit said.
And, it claims, he measured their genitals, and entered the showers so often that the boys would bet on how long it would take before he appeared once the water was running.
The lawsuit claims that in the fall of 2000, another teacher at Shattuck-St. Mary's encountered naked boys in the hall, and the boys told him about the dance party.
The teacher allegedly saw Seibel in the shower and reported it to the headmaster and two administrators, who didn't investigate or report it to authorities, the lawsuit said.
The school previously said that it appears this student is not among those named in the ongoing criminal case, and the school has no record that he reported any incidents of misconduct.
When Seibel was initially charged, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said the school may have had information about inappropriate contact, but apparently didn't notify authorities. At the time, the school said it investigated allegations in 2001, and told authorities, who did not take action.
School officials released this statement:
“As parents, as educators, as individuals, we’re pleased that the judicial process has worked to deliver a just resolution of the very serious charges against Lynn Seibel. We’re very appreciative of the hard work and consistent professionalism of both the Rice County Attorney and the Faribault Police Department.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.