St. Peter High science teacher accused in backpack assault

Published 10:11 am Friday, November 1, 2013

ST. PETER — A Minnesota teacher faces a misdemeanor assault charge for allegedly throwing an 11-pound backpack at a student’s head during class.

St. Peter High School science teacher Robert Shoemaker also is charged with malicious punishment of a child, a gross misdemeanor.

According to the complaint, a student in Shoemaker’s class said he wasn’t feeling good and was tired, so he put his head on his desk.

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The student, who was 17 at the time, said he heard Shoemaker walk toward him before he was hit on the head with the backpack. The student was treated for a bruised neck.

High school staff weighed the backpack after the incident and determined it weighed 11 pounds, the complaint said.

When the student lifted his head, Shoemaker was “in his face” and yelling at him, the student reported. Shoemaker then asked the student if he was a leader on the football and wrestling teams. When the student said he was, Shoemaker told him he should be a leader in the classroom as well, according to the complaint.

Shoemaker also asked the student to stay after class to talk to him. During that discussion, Shoemaker told him he had a temper and apologized for throwing a backpack at him, the student reported.

The incident was reported to police Sept. 27, a day after it allegedly occurred. The criminal complaint filed in Nicollet County District Court does not say who reported the incident.

Shoemaker, 53, declined to comment to The Free Press of Mankato and referred questions to his attorney, Sarah MacGillis. The lawyer did not immediately return phone or email messages left by The Associated Press on Thursday evening after her office had closed.

Shoemaker has worked at the school for two decades. Superintendent Jeff Olson said the complaint is being investigated.