Forest Lake teacher accused of sexual assault of 2 former students

A Forest Lake middle school teacher is facing charges for sexually assaulting two students at his home, the Washington County attorney announced on Thursday.

According to the attorney's office, 56-year-old James Edward Carter is charged with three counts of criminal sexual conduct in the case.

County Attorney Pete Orput says the investigation into Carter started after reports from two boys who said their former teacher had abused them on several occasions. Investigators say they learned Carter, a shop teacher at the middle school, would hire students to work on personal projects at his home for cash. Both victims reported being touched by Carter while doing work for him.

"Protecting children is our greatest priority," wrote Orput in a statement. "The defendant wholly abused his position of authority as a teacher and trusted adult to these young boys. This abuse and breach of trust erodes the very foundation of our education system and will never be tolerated."

Outside of the two victims, prosecutors say ten other teens were identified as former workers for Carter. It's unclear if they faced any inappropriate conduct.

In a message Wednesday evening, the district said Carter was no longer employed by the school district. Officials also said there was no evidence that the crimes were committed on campus.