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St. Paul school board member denies viewing child porn, quits

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A St. Paul Pioneer Press article Thursday reported that Metro State University police identified Oertwig viewing child pornography at a university library on March 30.

Oertwig, 62, says he knew nothing of the allegations against him until a reporter called him. He says he has not been contacted by police. 

Oertwig says he was probably at the library on March 30 because he routinely goes there to check e-mail and do school board business.

"But, under no circumstances, under no circumstances was I ever looking at child pornography," Oertwig says. "I have no interest in that, and I find the allegation offensive."

Despite his declaration of innocence, Oertwig  has resigned from the school board because he wants to avoid the distraction which would follow. He was first elected to the board in 1983.  

School Board Chair Elona Street-Stewart says the board will most likely approve Oertwig's resignation at its next meeting on May 15.

"The current situation is one that we will want to know more as the investigation continues. We regret that someone who has dedicated so much to the district has to exit under these circumstances," says Street-Stewart.

St. Paul police confirm they are investigating a case involving a man viewing pornography at the Metro State library, but they have not named the suspect.

According to a police report, Metropolitan State University security officials caught a man watching child porn on a library computer last month and concluded the man had logged on as Oertwig.

Even if police verify Oertwig was viewing the material, he might not be charged. State law isn't clear about whether watching child porn on a computer constitutes possession of illegal pornography, said Jack Rhodes, spokesman for the Ramsey County attorney's office. Possession of child pornography is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

      St. Paul police were called to the Metropolitan State University library, which shares a building with the city's Dayton's Bluff branch library, on March 30 after a patron told a security officer that a man was watching porn on a computer.

      The security officer saw the man watching a pornographic video of what appeared to be three adult men and three boys, the police report said. 

When the officer tapped the man on the shoulder and told him to log off, the man apologized, gathered his belongings and began to leave. The officer told the man to stop, but he ran away, the report said.

      Security officers linked the library identification number on the computer to Oertwig, the report said. They also obtained images of the man from security cameras, but the police report didn't say whether investigators asked the security officer to confirm the images.

                   (The Associated Press contributed to this report)