Thursday, April 12, 2007
St. Paul School Board's Longest Serving Member Allegedly Viewed Child Porn On Library Computer, Denies Charges
St. Paul school board member Al Oertwig, the district's longest-serving board member, said he would resign rather than fight claims that he viewed child pornography on a library computer.
"The allegation of child pornography is absolutely, totally false," Oertwig said, but added that he is stepping down after nearly 20 years to avoid a distraction for the district. "Whether it's true or false, it's going to be out there for months," he said. [So why resign if the charges are false? Methinks he doth protest too much. Way too much! - Drake]
By Thursday morning, Oertwig had sent an e-mail saying he intended to resign immediately to the board chairman, said district spokesman Casey Mahon.
However, by law to resign a board member must submit a signed letter and the board must vote to accept it.
Mahon said the district hadn't yet received the letter. The board's next scheduled meeting is May 15.
According to a police report, Metropolitan State University security officials caught a man watching child porn on a library computer last month and concluded the man had logged on as Oertwig.
Oertwig, 62, has not been arrested or charged with a crime.
Even if police verify Oertwig was viewing the material, he might not be charged. State law isn't clear about whether watching child porn on a computer constitutes possession of illegal pornography, said Jack Rhodes, spokesman for the Ramsey County attorney's office. Possession of child pornography is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
St. Paul police were called to the Metropolitan State University library, which shares a building with the city's Dayton's Bluff branch library, on March 30 after a patron told a security officer that a man was watching porn on a computer.
The security officer saw the man watching a pornographic video of what appeared to be three adult men and three boys, the police report said. When the officer tapped the man on the shoulder and told him to log off, the man apologized, gathered his belongings and began to leave. The officer told the man to stop, but he ran away, the report said.
Security officers linked the library identification number on the computer to Oertwig, the report said. They also obtained images of the man from security cameras, but the police report didn't say whether investigators asked the security officer to confirm the images.
Oertwig was first elected to the board in 1983 and has lost one election since: He was defeated in 1991 amid an anti-incumbency mood.
But in 1990, he used his campaign stationary to place a notice at several gay bars in hopes of attracting a renter and companion. Oertwig, who is openly gay, said at the time he never intended the notice to receive wide circulation.
Oertwig was re-elected in 1995 and was elected again in 2003.
He said Wednesday that having to respond to stories like the one about the rental notice had drained him.
"Because I've gone through too much, I'm simply not going to fight again," he said. "I'm just tired of being unfairly attacked."
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This isn't the first time Oertwig has made the news. Not long ago many of his colleagues and other professional people in the educational system questioned his odd schedule and odd hours of his school board position. It seems Al liked to work the graveyard shift...doing all sorts of (ahem) school business in the wee hours of darkness. Why, one could make the leaping conclusion that that's a great time of the
Have I mentioned Al is a Democrat? Did I mention that somewhere above? Well, if I didn't, I just want to mention that
"Super, thanks for asking! Say, can I borrow your library card? I need to log on to their public computer?"
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