A Mora High School English teacher and drama director has been charged with 17 felony counts of interfering with privacy of a minor after law enforcement discovered 114 photos of multiple juvenile females on the teacher’s school-issued iPad.
Benjamin Curtis Rossow, 38, of Mora was charged July 27 with 17 felony counts of interfering with privacy of a minor. Mora schools placed Rossow on paid administrative leave May 12 following allegations of inappropriate conduct with a 16-year-old student.
During an investigation, Kanabec County officers executed a search warrant for Rossow’s classroom computer, school-issued iPad and his personal cell phone which were all sent to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for analysis.
Results showed text message conversations between Rossow and the student which Sheriff Brian Smith said did not show criminal activity but displayed behavior that crossed the line of what would be professionally appropriate.
Results of the search warrants also revealed 114 photographs of at least 17 different girls allegedly taken with Rossow’s school-issued iPad between November 2013 and February 2014.
According to the criminal complaint filed by the Kanabec County Attorney’s office, all of the photos appear to be of girls wearing low cut shirts or bending over, many of which appear to have been taken inside classrooms and hallways of Mora High School.
The photos focus on the subjects’ chests and buttocks, and the subjects do not appear to know a photograph is being taken of them. The Kanabec County Sheriff’s Office is still working to identify all the subjects of the photos.
At press time Tuesday, Mora school administration could not be reached to comment on the issue or the employment status of Rossow. Rossow’s wife, Sara Rossow, is currently employed at Mora public schools as a high school social worker.
The maximum sentence for interfering with privacy against a minor is two years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. Ben Rossow was taken into custody July 27 and was awaiting a bail hearing at press time.
Update July 30, 2015:
Ben Rossow has since resigned from his position at Mora High School. The Mora school board will meet Monday, August 3 for a special meeting to consider approving his resignation request.
Mora Public Schools superintendent Craig Schultz issued the following statement Wednesday, July 29:
“We take complaints against District staff very seriously. The safety and well-being of the students enrolled in our schools is of great importance and is a priority.”
Rossow was released on bail July 28. His next scheduled court appearance is September 4 at the Kanabec County Courthouse.