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Published February 05 2010

Teen charged with having sex at West Fargo school

A 2009 West Fargo High School graduate has been charged with fornication for having sex with another student on school grounds last May.

School officials and the Cass County State’s Attorney’s Office said such a charge is uncommon for adult-aged high school students.

According to a police statement filed this week in Cass County District Court along with the charges:

Stephanie Ragan, 18, was found with a male student underneath a stairwell in the high school about 4:30 p.m. May 21 after a teacher alerted Principal Gary Clark of a possible situation.

The male student was under 18 at the time of the incident and is not being charged in adult court.

According to the report, Ragan told School Resource Officer Todd Pearson that she and the boy had sex and that she “had heard other girls talk about how cool it was to try and have sex at the school and that’s why she wanted to try it with (the male student).”

Ragan said Thursday evening she didn’t know for sure of any other female students who did have sex in the school and called it “pretty much talk and rumor.”

“It was all fun and games until you actually do get caught,” Ragan said. “Once you get caught in one of those bad situations, you ask yourself, ‘What am I doing?’ ”

Principal Clark said he couldn’t comment specifically about the incident, but said he is not aware of other incidents where students had sex in the school.

North Dakota’s Century Code defines fornication as “engaging in a sexual act in a public place.”

“Obviously a thing of this sort is something we take very seriously … (but) I don’t see that as something that’s been a trend,” he said. “It was an isolated incident.”

Cass County State’s Attorney Birch Burdick said he knows of at least one other case within the past couple of years when an adult-aged high school student was charged for having sex at an area high school.

Ragan, who now lives elsewhere, said she faced a few days of in-school suspension following the incident but was allowed to walk in the graduation procession a couple of weeks later.

She was not aware that criminal charges had been filed against her when contacted Thursday evening by The Forum.

“I guess when you are a teenager you want to make dumb mistakes, but you also want to make better choices, too,” Ragan said, adding that she hopes her situation sets an example for other students. “I’m hoping something good can happen.”

Ragan faces a Class A misdemeanor charge, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail, a $2,000 fine, or both.

Assistant State’s Attorney Ryan Younggren said a paperwork delay likely caused the charges to be filed nearly nine months after the incident.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541