Published November 21 2012
Former Minnesota prep school teacher faces sex chargesMINNEAPOLIS — A second former teacher at a southern Minnesota prep school has been charged with sexually assaulting a student as authorities continue their investigation into alleged abuse there.
Joseph Carl Machlitt, 63, appeared Wednesday in Rice County District Court on one count each of criminal sexual conduct and attempted criminal sexual conduct. The former art and photography teacher and dorm parent at Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault is accused of sexually assaulting a former student in the summer of 1980 after the boy suffered a swimming pool head injury and was taken to Machlitt's dormitory apartment for observation.
Last month, Lynn Seibel, an actor and former drama teacher at the school, was charged with having sexual contact with six students. A third teacher, investigated four years ago for sexual misconduct with a student, committed suicide.
The boy Machlitt is charged with assaulting was 14 at the time. He had hit his head in a swimming pool and Machlitt took him to a hospital and later agreed to take care of the boy for the evening because it was possible he had a concussion, according to the criminal complaint.
The boy was sleeping on a couch when he awoke to find Machlitt massaging his legs, the complaint said. Machlitt then sexually assaulted the boy, according to the complaint.
On another occasion, the complaint said, Machlitt tried to touch the boy inappropriately and the boy pushed him away.
“The defendant asked why it was alright to touch him the first time, but not at this time,” the complaint said. “(The boy) responded that he was not comfortable with it.”
Faribault police spokesman Don Gudmundson said authorities believe Machlitt sexually assaulted at least one other student, but it's not clear whether charges will be brought in that incident.
Online court records indicate Machlitt, of St. Paul, represented himself in court Wednesday. He posted bail later in the day and was released from custody. He could not be reached for comment afterward, and a woman who answered his home phone declined to be interviewed and said Machlitt also would have no comment at this time.
According to the complaint, he acknowledged to authorities that he had a sexual relationship with a student in 1980. Machlitt told authorities he took a job in New Hampshire later that summer and worked there for four years.
Police said the victim in Machlitt's case is now 46 years old and came forward after seeing news reports and information on social media about the charges against Seibel. Gudmundson said Seibel remains in custody in Los Angeles on unrelated charges but that he expects him to be moved to Minnesota within the next couple of months.
Gudmundson said police believe the school staff and administrators did not know about Machlitt's alleged abuse at the time.
Messages left with a school communications official Wednesday were not immediately returned.
Gudmundson said the investigation is ongoing and complex, and has taken police investigators and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents from coast to coast. He said it's possible more people could be charged, or Machlitt and Seibel could face more charges.
“We are following up on additional information involving other potential defendants, however some instances are past the statute of limitations and we do run up against victims who do want to go into detail about any abuse,” Gudmundson said.
The school said last month that it received a complaint about Seibel in 2001, but that its investigation found the complaint to be groundless. The school maintains that it told police and county social services about the allegation against Seibel, but police said they have no records of being informed.
The school said it fired Seibel in 2003, after finding pornography on his school-issued computer.