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County Attorney News Releases

Contact:

Monica Jensen
651-438-4440

Two St. Paul School District Employees Charged for Not Complying with Minnesota’s Mandated Reporting Law – Beth Antoinette Behnke and Craig Aaron Guidry
​Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced that Beth Antoinette Behnke, age 48 of Burnsville, and Craig Aaron Guidry, age 52 of Arden Hills, were charged* late today with one count of Failure to Report (a misdemeanor) in connection with failing to report under Minnesota’s mandated reporting law conduct by Walter Johann Happel, formerly a building custodian at an elementary school in St. Paul.  This conduct related to an incident that occurred in January of 2012 that was later labeled “sexual abuse” in a March 19, 2014 report filed by a school social worker with the St. Paul School District. 

Backstrom’s office is handling the matter on a conflict basis due to Ramsey County Attorney’s Office handling of the prosecution of Walter Happel.  The defendants charged in these Dakota County complaints will likely be witnesses in the prosecution of Happel by the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office.

Backstrom commented: “Mandated reporters are required to file reports within 24 hours of their direct observations or indirect information they receive related to the neglect or sexual abuse of a child.  The responsibility to make such a report to the appropriate law enforcement agency or social services agency is not excused by the belief a mandated reporter may have that such a report will be filed by someone else in the organization’s hierarchy.  The mandated reporting law is important to protecting the health and safety of children and needs to be followed by all mandated reporters.  By the filing of these charges we are alleging that this was not done in this instance.”

Backstrom thanked the Saint Paul Police Department for their investigation into this matter. 

Behnke and Guidry have been charged by summons and their first court appearances have not yet been set.

If you have questions, contact James Backstrom at 651-438-4440. 

*Criminal charges are not evidence of guilt.  A defendant/suspect is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.