Eden Prairie teacher accused of grooming student, having intimate relationship

A former teacher at Eden Prairie High School is accused of grooming a student in a criminal complaint filed by Eden Prairie police last week.

Fifty-one-year-old Craig Hollenbeck is charged with one count of endangering a child in the case. According to the complaint, the investigation dates back to September 2021 when police received a complaint from a mandated reporter.

According to the charges, Hollenbeck exchanged messages with the student that talked about "falling in love" with them, and how they had been intimate together in his classroom. Charges even allege that the student would visit Hollenbeck during their free period, and he would lock the door.

FOX 9 talked to several of Hollenbeck’s former students Sunday. Most detailed how the social studies teacher was very well liked by students and faculty, but that in hindsight, they view the relationships he formed with female students as inappropriate and "predatory" in nature.

A few students shared screenshots of apparent electronic communications they had with Hollenbeck, saying he would often "friend" students on social media and send private messages and text messages to personal cell phones outside of school hours.

Police say they received information that Hollenbeck had been involved in the relationship with the student since at least February 2021 and the pair had interactions via "text message, social media, Facetime, and in-person meetings." By the time police received the report, they say the teen had already graduated in May 2021.

Police say, when they searched Hollenbeck's phone in September 2021, they found he had searched websites to learn "how to delete notes and social media messages and accounts."

Hollenbeck is not facing any sexual misconduct charges at this time and the charges don't say how old the student was at the time of the alleged misconduct – or if police were able to speak with the victim. However, police say they consulted with experts who described Hollenbeck's behavior as grooming – saying the contact could cause "substantial harm to a minor's emotional and/or mental health." That analysis aligns with the grounds for the misdemeanor endangerment charge.

School board meeting minutes show that Hollenbeck resigned effective September 28, 2021. He is no longer listed on the Eden Prairie High School staff directory.

Before resigning, he received several accolades over the years, including Eden Prairie Teacher of the Year in 2013. Eden Prairie High School did not respond to a request for comment Sunday.

Police say he is currently not in custody. Attempts to reach Hollenbeck were unsuccessful.