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Ellsworth teacher/coach charged following board meeting

Ellsworth High School boys’ basketball coach and physical education/health teacher J.D. Roberts is facing stalking and assault charges after allegedly sending threatening text messages to Ellsworth school board members on Monday.

ELLSWORTH — Ellsworth head boys basketball coach and physical education/health teacher John D. Roberts is facing criminal charges following an incident at Monday’s Ellsworth School District board meeting.

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Roberts has been charged with stalking with the intent to injure, a gross misdemeanor, and assault in the fifth degree, a misdemeanor, after allegedly sending a school board member threatening text messages when the school board voted to not renew his contract.

Nobles County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call at approximately 7:56 p.m. Monday at Ellsworth Public School, 513 S. Broadway St., for a report of threats, according to court documents.

Upon arrival, deputies spoke with Michael Werner, a school board member, who told officials that Roberts left the meeting after hearing the news about the termination of his contract. When the meeting concluded, Werner said, he received a text message from Roberts stating, “I’m coming after you.”

According to court documents, Werner immediately went to his residence to warn his family of the threats. He then met with the other school board members and the school attorney.

According to the criminal complaint, the school attorney advised the board to suspend Roberts for the rest of the year without pay, to which the board members agreed. The attorney also asked officials to go with board members to Roberts’ girlfriend’s residence in Ellsworth, where he was staying at the time.

At that location, the keys to the school were retrieved from Roberts, and he was informed he could not come back to school. Nobles County deputies spoke with Roberts alone, while the three board members waited away from the house.

Roberts admitted to police that he sent the text message to Werner because he meant to go after him. He also stated he would harm Werner, according to court documents. 

Roberts then allegedly yelled out to the board members, “You better watch out!” After police believed Roberts would act on his threats — and felt that the Ellsworth school board members and their families were in immediate danger — they proceeded to arrest him.

Once booked into the Nobles County Jail, Roberts allegedly made troubling comments to family members during a recorded phone call at the jail. Since all calls are recorded, the jailer notified Nobles County deputies that Roberts said he would “settle the dust” and “have the last laugh.”

Roberts posted his $3,000 bail bond with conditions, and was released from jail Wednesday. He makes his initial court appearance early next month.

Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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