Criminal photos found on Spring Lake Park teacher's computer

POLICE: Criminal photos found on Spring Lake Park teacher's computer

Posted: Updated:
ANOKA, Minn. (KMSP) -

Police in Anoka County are investigating a teacher who works in the St. Francis and Spring Lake Park school district after several thousand photographs were found on his computer, some of them allegedly depicting “young students posed in compromising positions.”

The Anoka County Sheriff's Office began a criminal investigation on May 15 after 48-year-old David Wayne Harrell, of Chaska, was allegedly seen with a young student sitting on his lap. Harrell is a contracted teacher in the Spring Lake Park School District, and police say the technology coordinator for the school found several thousand photographs on his computer -- many which involved his own students. 

"Back in May, we received a call of the superintendent who said there was some concern after Harrell was seen with a student on his lap. Subsequently, the technology coordinator in the district found thousands of photos on his computer, some of them students. About a handful were of concern," Cmdr. Paul Sommers explained.

Harrell was initially arrested on interference of privacy grounds, but he was later released without charges so that police could continue with a thorough investigation. Forensic computer detectives have located thousands of photos on his computer, and police believe some are criminal in nature.

"We believe some of the pictures are very definitely within the parameters of child pornography, and some of them may be questionable," Sommers said.

The sheriff's office would not say how many potential victims there are or offer any further specifics about the photos other than to say the children were not posed and that when interviewed, the elementary-aged students did not say anything inappropriate had occurred.

"It's not as if he took these kids and posed them in very suggestive, sexual manners," Sommers clarified. "It was more of a surreptitious type of a photograph."

No charges have been filed and the investigation is ongoing. Investigators anticipate it should take a couple of weeks to conclude the probe, but they say parents of all the children who may have been directly affected have been notified.

The St. Francis and Spring Lake Park School Districts have notified parents via letter or email.

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