Lawsuit filed against former Forest Lake teacher following sexual conduct charges

The student of a former middle school teacher guilty of criminal sexual conduct has filed a lawsuit seeking damages.

Former Forest Lake Area Middle School teacher James E. Carter, 58, was sentenced to 365 days in jail in September after he was found guilty of second- and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for sexually assaulting two juvenile students from 2018 and 2020.

According to the complaint filed in Washington County, during the 2018–2019 school year a student – identified as John Doe 705 in the lawsuit – interacted with Carter after school while he participated in a community service program through the Lakes Center cleaning the Industrial Technology shop at Forest Lake Middle School. 

After completing the community service, Carter began taking Doe 705 to church at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Forest Lake, where Carter volunteered to mentor in youth programs. Carter also hired students to perform miscellaneous tasks such as packing, moving and cleaning at his home.

Two juveniles eventually told investigators that Carter had sexually assaulted them at his home on several occasions, according to a Washington County Sheriff’s Office investigation.

According to the complaint, in August 2020, Doe 705 told his parents about Carter’s misconduct and the family contacted the police. 

On Sept. 16, 2022, Carter was sentenced to a suspended sentence of 18 months in prison on the condition that he serve one year incarcerated in the Washington County Jail, register as a predatory sex offender, and participate in a sex offender treatment program, among other conditions.

"What happened here is every parent’s nightmare. A trusted teacher appears to show concern and dedication by giving a little extra care and attention to our son when he needed it, only to learn that the ‘concern’ and ‘dedication’ was a smoke screen to groom him for sexual abuse," Doe 705’s mother said in a press statement provided by attorneys representing the family.

The lawsuit seeks an award in excess of $50,000, and, "any further relief the court deems just and equitable under the relevant circumstances."