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Bemidji teacher charged with sex crime against student

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A teacher at a Bemidji charter school was charged Friday, Jan. 3, with having sex with one of his students.

Paul Joseph Johnson, 48, Backus, was arraigned Jan. 3 in Beltrami County Court on charges of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

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Johnson has taught math at Voyageurs Expeditionary School for five years and serves as an adviser. He is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student.

Johnson has been placed on unpaid administrative leave, according to a release from the school.

Johnson was being held in the Beltrami County Jail. A future court date has not been released.

The female student informed law enforcement Wednesday, Jan. 1, that she and Johnson had engaged in a romantic sexual relationship between October and December.

Court documents say the student and Johnson engaged in sexual intercourse at least three times — once in a Minneapolis-St. Paul hotel room during a teachers conference and twice in the back seat of Johnson’s car.

Johnson and the girl used Gmail hangouts to communicate, court documents said. Law enforcement reviewed the student’s Gmail account, which included 60 pages of chat messages between her and Johnson starting in October. The criminal complaint stated that the conversations included discussions about the student and Johnson’s sexual relationship.

The charges Johnson faces carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and/or a $30,000 fine.

Voyageurs Expeditionary School issued a release saying it is cooperating fully with the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office during the investigation. Johnson also taught marketing, accounting, business ethics and speech classes at the school.

Johnson’s school biography states he lives in Hackensack with his wife and he has three grown children and four grandchildren. His address on the complaint is listed as Backus.

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