Crystal Dey, Forum News Service, Published March 21 2014
Frenchman convicted in home country for sex crimes committed at Concordia Language Villages in Bemidji
Adrien Massy, 32, of Angers, France, was sentenced to 12 years in a French prison for sexually assaulting the boys, ages 10 and 11, in Bemidji.
Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp was informed Thursday by Honorary French Consul Alain Frecon that Massy was sentenced March 14 in France.
“That he was convicted of our charges in France is pretty significant and rare,” Hodapp said. “It indicates good cooperation, not only of the law enforcement and investigative authorities in Minnesota and the federal government in the United States, but also with the French government.”
In addition to Massy’s prison sentence, he was placed on 10 years of probation with sex offender treatment upon release. Massy faces three additional years in prison if he fails to comply. Massy received a lifetime ban on contact with minors and must register on the French national registry of sex offenders/pedophiles.
According to the release, Frecon said Massy confessed to additional rapes of children in France. When Massy was sentenced, the French judge said he was not about to let an incident like this “taint the good Franco-American relationship we have enjoyed for generations,” the release said.
Massy was a foreign exchange teacher through the Amity Institute of San Diego and employed at the French Academy of Minnesota in St. Louis Park at the time he assaulted the boys, who were from the Twin Cities. He was in the Bemidji area between May 22 and May 27, 2010, staying at Concordia Language Villages with the boys during a field trip from the academy when the sexual assaults occurred.
“Kids are safe at Concordia. We talked about that a lot four years ago,” Hodapp said. “This was anomalous behavior, and it wasn’t an employee of Concordia. It was an employee of an outside agency that did this while they were here on a field trip.”
Concordia Language Villages hosts about 4,000 children during summer camps along with school trips during the school year, said Carl-Martin Nelson, director of marketing and communications. During school trips, it is common for parents and teachers to chaperone children.
“This was a chaperone that was brought by the French Academy,” Nelson said. “He was never employed by the language villages.”
Nelson said schools are now required to screen more rigorously before bringing chaperones and teachers to the camp. He emphasized that children’s safety is important at the villages and all staff is vetted and screened assiduously.
Massy was a French teacher hired through the Amity program out of San Diego, which secured his position in St. Louis Park, Nelson said.
“The Amity program is a well-respected program,” Nelson said. “A lot of great folks have come to the U.S. to teach their languages as Amity aids. It’s a shame that this person is casting a shadow on that as well.”
Fled the U.S.
In 2010, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office initiated an investigation into the sexual assaults. On June 9, the Sheriff’s Office learned of the assault on the 10-year-old, which occurred June 7.
Beltrami County sheriff’s investigator Danelle Haugen worked with St. Louis Park police officers and Edina police Detective Mike Lutz on the investigation of assaults Massy committed in Beltrami County and the metro area.
Hodapp said Massy was fired from his teaching job, his visa was revoked and he fled to France. Once the investigation was complete, reports were submitted to the U.S. attorney’s office, which tried to have Massy arrested and extradited back to the U.S. to stand trial.
French authorities located Massy two years ago and took him into custody on an unlawful flight to avoid prosecution warrant, according the sheriff’s office.
Frecon informed the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office that French law allows for the prosecution of the defendant without cross-examining the victims because it is written in such a way to protect minor victims from exposure, according to the release.
The language camp is affiliated with Concordia College of Moorhead.