Former Z-M teacher cleared of indecent exposure chargesCharges were dismissed Friday against a former Zumbrota-Mazeppa High School teacher accused of exposing himself to a busload of girls.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
Charges were dismissed Friday against a former Zumbrota-Mazeppa High School teacher accused of exposing himself to a busload of girls.
First District Court Judge Kevin Mark said Joseph Vernon Halvorson had a sufficient alibi for the April 2008 incident. He was accused of driving alongside a school bus and exposing his genitals to female passengers traveling on a bus from Cannon Falls to Rochester.
"Simply put, the defendant could not have placed himself behind the bus at the time and place alleged by the state's witnesses," Mark wrote in his dismissal order.
Halvorson had been charged with two counts of indecent exposure, a misdemeanor, and disorderly conduct.
The decision came as a relief to Halvorson, his attorney said.
"I cannot imagine a worse thing to be falsely accused of if you're a teacher," Minneapolis attorney Joseph Friedberg said.
Friedberg said the case has precluded the 33-year-old from landing another teaching job. Halvorson was a first-year Spanish teacher at the time.
Witnesses said the offending motorist decelerated after exposing himself. They later saw a similar-looking vehicle pass the bus and exit at Rochester. Witnesses took down the license plate of the vehicle, which turned out to be Halvorson's.
But "it would have been factually impossible" for Halvorson to have committed the act, since it happened before he logged out of school computers at Z-M, Mark wrote in the decision.
Assistant Goodhue County Attorney Erin Kuester said she respects Mark's ruling, but stands behind the witnesses, who were members of a Cannon Falls girls softball team. The girls identified Halvorson in a photo lineup five weeks after the incident, though Mark noted inconsistencies in their stories.
"I believe them to be credible reporters of events," Kuester said. "It took a lot of courage to make a report of what they saw."
Friedberg agreed the claims were made in good faith, but questioned the State Patrol officer's investigation of events.
"It was a sloppy investigation that led to a misidentification," he said.