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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Proctor High School teacher convicted of raping student

DULUT, Minnesota. Prepared by a Proctor High School teacher to engage in a year-long series of sexual assaults, the former student said she was “trapped in a terrible cycle that I didn’t even understand.”

But after years of manipulation and threats to silence her, victim Todd Robert Clark’s words were finally heard in a Duluth courtroom on Monday.

“What happened here emotionally broke me in every way imaginable,” the young woman wrote in a letter that was read aloud by a spokesperson. “He found out about my vulnerabilities and used them to manipulate me into infiltrating my life as the father he knew I wanted.”

Todd Robert Clark, 52, was convicted on June 20, 2022 of sexually assaulting one of his students at Proctor High School in Proctor, Minnesota (Forum News Service).

Clark, a longtime local teacher and high school basketball coach, said he took responsibility for his actions. But he did not win the leniency of Judge Teresa Neo, who called the case “a parent’s worst nightmare” and sentenced him to four years in prison.

Clark, 52, seemed prepared for the moment, exchanging hugs and handing over his belongings to family members moments before. He was handcuffed and the deputies took him out of the courtroom to immediately begin serving his sentence.

“He tore apart the community to satisfy his illness,” the victim’s mother told the court.

Clark, a teacher at AI Jedlicka High School prior to his arrest last August, pleaded guilty in April to a count of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree.

He admitted that he developed a relationship and had a sexual relationship with a girl when she was 15 years old. He admitted that he had used his hand to inappropriately touch it more than once in a car, under circumstances that could be described as coercion.

Due to the girl’s age and the fact that Clark was in a position of authority, the victim was unable to give consent and these actions constituted sexual assault.

The victim and her mother on Monday described how Clarke took advantage of a difficult family situation brought to the attention of school authorities. A former eighth-grade algebra student of Clark’s, the girl said they started dating outside of school – at first just in a restaurant or during a car ride, and later Clark “tested the waters” with kisses and inappropriate touches.

The victim said it “didn’t feel right” but she felt the need to keep Clark in her life. According to her, he demanded secrecy and threatened suicide if she came forward.

“I was hammered in that if anyone found out about the violence, then I would be responsible for the conclusion or his death,” the girl told the court.

The victim’s mother told the judge that “the impact on my family is unmeasurable,” citing the flurry of comments and gossip they’ve encountered in the school community since her daughter turned to another teacher last summer.

“(She) still has bouts of extreme emotional stress and will have to work on it for the rest of her life,” the mother told the court.

Clark himself gave a lengthy statement in which he denied that he manipulated the situation, but nevertheless said: “I’m just really sorry that it happened.”

Neo took a roughly 20-minute break before returning to announce her decision, telling Clark that “your apology doesn’t feel like an apology.”

“I don’t know if you can comprehend the pain, damage and harm you caused (the victim), her family and community, and anyone who fears that their child may be a victim of sexual abuse,” the judge said.

Clark, who previously served 37 days, must spend at least two-thirds of his sentence – 32 months – in custody before he becomes eligible for a supervised release, which will be extended by 10 years. It must also register as a predator.

Clark, a 1988 graduate of Proctor High School, was previously a high school math teacher at Marshall School in Duluth and spent 20 years coaching high school boys’ basketball at Proctor and Marshall School.

World Nation News Desk
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