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Former Shattuck teacher facing criminal charges subbed at St. Paul school

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Joseph Machlitt
This undated photo provided by the Rice County Sheriff's Office via the Faribault Daily News shows Joseph Carl Machlitt, 63. A second former teacher at a southern Minnesota prep school has been charged with sexually assaulting a student as authorities continue their investigation into alleged abuse there. Machlitt, 63, appeared in Rice County District Court on one count each of criminal sexual conduct and attempted criminal sexual conduct.
Rice County Sheriff's Office/AP

Joseph Machlitt, who faces criminal charges for allegedly sexually abusing a boy in 1980 at a Faribault boarding school, recently worked as a substitute teacher at a private school in St. Paul.

St. Paul Academy and Summit School, which employed Machlitt as a substitute teacher, notified parents, faculty, staff and trustees about the charges via email on Friday.

"At the time of his employment, we were unaware of any prior complaints involving Mr. Machlitt and we are unaware of any complaints about his conduct during his brief time at SPA," Head of School Bryn Roberts wrote in his email. "Mr. Machlitt, who will never work again at SPA, filled in for absent teachers principally in the Upper and Middle Schools and on one occasion in the Lower School."

Machlitt was charged Wednesday with third-degree criminal sexual conduct and fourth-degree attempted criminal sexual conduct for allegedly sexually abusing a 14-year-old student at Shattuck-St. Mary's School in Faribault in 1980. Machlitt, who is 63, was a teacher at Shattuck-St. Mary's School at the time of the alleged crime. According to the criminal complaint, Machlitt admitted to investigators in October 2012 that he had a "sexual relationship" with the boy.

The former student told police about the abuse on Oct. 9, one day after another former Shattuck-St. Mary's teacher, Lynn Seibel, was charged with 15 counts of criminal sexual conduct for allegedly sexually abusing six students from 1999 to 2003. Seibel remains in a California jail awaiting extradition to Minnesota.

Within hours of news reports last week about the charges against Machlitt, students at St. Paul Academy started commenting online about the case. Many recognized Machlitt as their substitute teacher.

"I had him as a teacher 30 hours ago and now he admitted to sexual abuse," one student tweeted.

St. Paul Academy spokesperson Ami Berger said Machlitt worked at St. Paul Academy as a "periodic substitute teacher" beginning in October 2011. 

Machlitt has not returned calls and emails seeking comment.

According to the criminal complaint, the abuse began when Machlitt agreed to care for a Shattuck-St. Mary's student overnight on June 25, 1980. The boy had suffered a head injury while swimming and Machlitt took him to the hospital, where the student was treated for a possible concussion, the complaint said.

The student went to sleep on Machlitt's couch but woke up when Machlitt began touching him inappropriately, the complaint said. Machlitt then allegedly directed the student to engage in a sexual act. The alleged victim told police that Machlitt also tried to touch him in a sexually inappropriate manner a second time that summer.

Machlitt, who taught art and photography at Shattuck-St. Mary's, left the school in August 1980, less than two months after the alleged abuse began, and started a new job at a private boarding school in New Hampshire. He worked at the New Hampshire-based St. Paul's School from 1980 to 1984, according to a school spokesperson. 

Court records do not indicate when Machlitt moved back to Minnesota or whether he has worked at other schools.