Minn. superintendent accused of publicly exposing himself 16 times
WAITE PARK, Minn. — Rocori Superintendent Scott Staska has reportedly publicly exposed himself 16 times — most frequently at gas stations — since November, according to Waite Park Police Chief Dave Bentrud.
Staska, who served as superintendent of schools at Yellow Medicine East in Granite Falls from 2000 to 2002, before going to Rocori, is also a former high school principal at Barnesville. He was one of six finalists for the superintendent’s job at Moorhead Area Public Schools when he was arrested by Waite Park police last week after he was accused of exposing himself to employees at a Waite Park gas station at least five times since December, and as recently as March 18, Bentrud announced last week.
The Rocori school includes the towns of Rockville, Cold Spring and Richmond in central Minnesota near St. Cloud.
Since the initial news release March 22, St. Cloud and Waite Park police have determined several additional incidents of indecent exposure by Staska, Bentrud announced in a news release this week.
All of the new cases have the "same or very similar circumstances," the release stated.
"He's in the store, unzips his fly, pulls it out and exposes himself and walks around that way," Bentrud said. "That's what his M.O. was in 16 different (incidents)."
The cases being investigated include at Kwik Trips in Waite Park and St. Cloud, SuperAmerica in Waite Park and at two stores in a St. Cloud mall.
Bentrud said a few of the clerks at the stores were 17 years old, but none were younger than 16, which could raise the level of offense from misdemeanor to gross misdemeanor.
"It wasn't like he was targeting younger workers or anything like that," Bentrud said. "It didn't really matter — male, female, young, old — it didn't matter."
Staska, who was named the state’s top superintendent of schools in 2010, could face several misdemeanor counts. The cases will be sent to Waite Park and St. Cloud city attorneys, who will coordinate prosecution of the incidents.
Bentrud said the police department is not actively looking for more incidents involving Staska, but said more incidents might be reported.
"There's just multiple counts of a misdemeanor crime because there's no other threats. There's no other coercion. Just the exposing," Bentrud said. "There's no extenuating ... circumstances to what he was doing."
Staska was arrested, booked into Stearns County Jail and released on March 21. Bentrud said Wednesday he expects Staska to make his first court appearance within four to six weeks.
"We've established that there's a pattern here," Bentrud said. "I think the judge will, I'm sure, take that into consideration when it comes to any sentencing, fines or probation."
Staska is on paid administrative leave. The Rocori school board unanimously approved Monday working with Minnesota School Boards Association to find candidates willing to step in as acting superintendent. The board is planning to meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday to consider acting superintendent candidates.
Staska, 56, of Cold Spring has been superintendent at Rocori since 2002. His contract goes through June 30, 2020.
Staska has not had any formal complaints filed against him since he started his tenure as superintendent at Rocori, according to Rocori school board chair Kara Habben.
On March 19, Staska was named one of six finalists for the Moorhead Area Public Schools superintendent. A Moorhead district spokesperson said Staska removed himself from consideration last week before the candidates were interviewed.
Staska came to Rocori from Yellow Medicine East school district in Granite Falls where he was superintendent. Before that, he was the principal in Barnesville.
In 2010, Staska was named the state's top superintendent by the Minnesota Association of School Administrators. He was credited for his leadership as the school district went through crises, including a school shooting in 2003 that killed two students.
Staska had to deal with a Granite Falls tornado in 2000 and Minnesota River flooding a year later while serving as superintendent at YME. In 1996, while principal of Barnesville High School, a carload of teen-agers shot at his house one night, piercing the wall above the head of his sleeping son. The shooter, who was 15 at the time, was sentenced to 12 years in prison and two other juveniles pleaded guilty to lesser offenses.
Forum News Service contributed to this report