ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 9) - A former Rochester police officer is accused of having a sexual relationship with a minor he met while coaching at a local high school.
Prosecutors charged Timothy Robert Morgenstern, 22, with two counts of criminal sexual conduct while in a position of authority and one count of using a minor in pornographic work during the relationship.
According to the charging documents, the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office was alerted to the alleged crime in September 2022 after the 16-year-old girl told her therapist about the relationship. The teen claimed she met the police officer at a Rochester high school while he was volunteering as a coach.
The pair talked for months and allegedly exchanged explicit videos and pictures before meeting at his house, where the crime occurred. During the relationship, Morgenstern would talk to the 16-year-old about their relationship being "forbidden" because of their age difference and the fact he was her coach, the complaint states.
The Rochester Police Department (RPD) said they were informed of the report and put Morgenstern on administrative leave. Since the alleged offense took place in Rochester, the police department asked the sheriff’s office to handle the investigation to avoid a conflict of interest.
"The conduct outlined in this case is inconsistent with the core values of our department," said Chief Jim Franklin in a statement.
As part of the investigation, law enforcement spoke with the 16-year-old and her friend, collected cellphone data, and took DNA swabs at Morgenstern’s house, which were sent to the BCA for testing, according to the court documents.
During an interview with investigators, Morgenstern denied having a sexual relationship with the 16-year-old and claimed she had never been to his house, according to the complaint.
Morgenstern was ultimately fired from the department on Oct. 6, 2022, about a week after the report was initially filed, police said. The 22-year-old worked as an officer with the RPD for one year and received two letters of appreciation and no discipline, according to the department.
The former police officer was charged via summons and is set to make his first court appearance on Feb. 15.