A Catholic schoolteacher in Austin, Minn., was fired Tuesday after she was jailed and accused of sexually assaulting a male student, diocese officials said.
The 28-year-old, who taught math at Pacelli High School, was arrested at her home Monday in Austin on suspicion of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, said Police Chief Brian Krueger.
Krueger declined to say anything about the victim, including age and gender, until the Mower County attorney’s office files a criminal complaint, which is expected to happen Wednesday.
Marsha Stenzel, school superintendent for the Diocese of Winona, said the victim is a minor. The school tipped police.
Diocese spokesman Joel Hennessy added that the victim is a male and “is a student of ours.”
A police officer assigned to Austin High School was asked first thing Monday to report to neighboring Pacelli High School regarding the teacher, Krueger said. That afternoon, she was arrested at her apartment about a half-mile from Pacelli, the chief added.
“The Pacelli High School administration has been cooperating with law enforcement during this investigation,” Stenzel said.
She added that Pacelli “has adopted procedures and a protocol to identify sexual abuse and immediately report suspicious activity to law enforcement.” Those procedures and protocols resulted in the arrest, she said.
Hennessy said the school’s families were notified of the allegations and the firing in a letter from the diocese.
A leading voice against sexual abuse perpetrated primarily by Catholic clergy called on the diocese’s bishop, John Quinn, to “step up” and visit the school.
“He should personally visit the school and nearby parishes begging anyone who may have seen” anything troubling in this case to report their suspicions to law enforcement, said David Clohessy, national director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
“He should insist that school staff write to current and former staff, students and parents, seeking more information,” Clohessy added. “The protection of kids is the bishop’s job. He should step up and help here.”