John Wangberg, longtime Bemidji teacher, allegedly sexually abused kindergarten girls

Three girls have come forward and accused Wangberg of abusing them when they were between five and seven years old.
Three girls have come forward and accused Wangberg of abusing them when they were between five and seven years old.

John Wangberg was a physical education teacher at Bemidji's Central Elementary School for 30 years. He resigned on March 16, 2011, and two days later the family of a student came forward to report the girl had been sexually abused by him.

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But it wasn't until a year and a half later -- after two more girls came forward to say they'd been abused by Wangberg while they were in kindergarten -- that criminal charges were filed. On Wednesday, Wangberg, 58, was arraigned on two felony counts of criminal sexual conduct and a gross misdemeanor charge of non-consensual sexual conduct.

The Bemidji Pioneers details the allegations made by each of the three girls:

It wasn't until two other victims reported alleged abuse to police - one on March 6, 2012 and the third on Dec. 4, 2012 - that a search warrant was issued. That warrant, applied for on Dec. 7, 2012, allowed Bemidji police to confiscate materials from Wangberg's home.

In the [March 2011 case], the victim's mother told police that her daughter was "unusually quiet" after picking the student up from school. The victim then told her mother that she "was in her gym teacher's office, that her pants were down and that (Wangberg) touched her," according to the criminal complaint filed Wednesday by Faver.

In [the case of the case reported to police last March 6], Bemidji police received a report of abuse, allegedly occurring in 2010, to a former student at the school. The victim, now living with her family Texas, was interviewed by police there. Law enforcement in Texas then shared their findings with the Bemidji Police Department. The complaint stated, in part, that Wangberg "touched her inappropriately."

The [victim in the case reported to police December 4] told police that Wangberg allegedly took pictures of her private areas, according to the search warrant application. That student also said that she had played a game with Wangberg called "'guess the food,' which involved closing her eyes and trying to guess what type of food" was put in her mouth, according to the complaint.

Wangberg's resignation was accepted one day before the first victim came forward, and on March 17 [2011], he was placed on paid administrative leave "pending investigation of alleged misconduct."

Wangberg, who was also a longtime assistant for the Bemidji High School boys hockey team, faces 25 years in prison for each of the two felony charges.

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