Updated: 07/08/2014 8:59 AM KSTP.com By: Brad Sattin
Photo: Photo: Ramsey County Sheriff's Office
Dressed in an orange jumpsuit, 62-year-old Walter Happel, of Newport, Minnesota, entered a not-guilty plea in Ramsey County Court Monday in connection with allegations he sexually abused children over the past 30 years.
The plea came after Judge Patrick Diamond ruled there is enough evidence to hold Happel for trial. He remains in custody.
Happel, a long-time janitor at Linwood Monroe Elementary School in St. Paul, was accused earlier this year of peeking under a stall to watch an 11-year-old boy using the bathroom. That allegation led others to come forward with claims Happel abused them as well. Some of the alleged victims are now adults. The accusations range from felony peeping to rape, stemming back to the early 1980s. Some accusations are from as recent as this year.
A judge will decide during a pre-trial hearing on Aug. 6 whether the claims should all be confined to a single trial or broken into several different trials. A trial date is set for Sept. 8.
Meanwhile, the Dakota County Attorney’s Office continues to investigate whether any officials with Saint Paul Public Schools broke any laws by not immediately reporting earlier claims of abuse by Happel.