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Accused Central teacher faces additional felony sex charges

Herald File Photo

A Grand Forks Central High School teacher arrested and charged earlier this month with having a sexual relationship with a student is facing additional felony charges.

James Patrick Whalen, a biology teacher who resigned from the high school March 1, is accused of having a sexual relationship with a student who is older than 15 but was a minor between Nov. 14, 2015, and Feb. 22.

The 41-year-old was initially charged with two counts of corruption or solicitation of a minor, but court documents filed Tuesday show he now faces two more charges in a separate, related case: a third corruption or solicitation of a minor charge and a sexual assault charge.

A Grand Forks Police Department detective advised a Grand Forks Sheriff's Office investigator "there may have been criminal behaviors that occurred in Grand Forks County outside (police) jurisdiction," leading to these additional charges, according to a court document.

The new corruption of a minor charge accuses Whalen of engaging in a sexual act with the student in his green Ford Expedition near the English Coulee diversion outside Grand Forks between November and December last year, according to court documents, while the sexual assault charge accuses him of having sexual contact with the student at Kellys Slough Wildlife Refuge last November.

Whalen already appeared in court on his original corruption or solicitation of a minor charges a few hours after turning himself into jail March 4. One is a Class B felony that accuses him of engaging in a sexual act with the student in rooms at Central High School. The other is a Class C felony that accuses him of having sex with her last month at his Grand Forks home.

Whalen faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and $30,000 on these charges. He won't make an appearance for this case again until May 9.

However, Whalen is summoned to appear in Grand Forks District Court on his two new charges April 5. He faces the same maximum sentence for these as he does for his original charges.

Becky Jacobs

Becky Jacobs is the crime and courts reporter for the Herald.

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