A Bemidji High School teacher has been charged with possessing child pornography on his school computer.
Steven James Strasser, 45, of Bemidji, was charged Friday with possession of photographic representation of a minor engaged in sexual conduct. The felony carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Beltrami County Attorney Tim Faver said Strasser was released on his promise to appear in court, and on the conditions that he does not possess pornography and stays off the Internet. Strasser is due back in court next Monday.
Superintendent Jim Hess said Strasser, an English teacher and speech adviser who has worked at the school since 1997, was placed on paid administrative leave.
"We take these kinds of things very seriously and we also want to resolve this investigation as soon as possible," Hess said.
The criminal complaint said Strasser had been having some difficulties with his laptop computer. While working on the computer, a district employee noticed that a "scrubbing" program had been installed on it, the complaint said. The employee scanned the computer and discovered pornographic images of children, the complaint alleges.
According to the complaint, the computer contained numerous pornographic pictures of adolescent and preadolescent boys and girls.
The complaint alleges Strasser told police Thursday he had used the computer to download pornographic images of adults and children from the Internet over his office connection. He allegedly said he bought the "scrubbing" software to try to remove the images.
Strasser's phone number is unpublished.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)