MINOT, N.D. – A former school superintendent pleaded guilty Tuesday to multiple sex crimes, putting him in prison for 35 years, KX News of Minot reported.
Charles Soper, 51, was working as the superintendent in Sawyer, about 15 miles southeast of MInot, when he was arrested last May and accused of having sex with a 15-year-old boy.
KX reported that a plea deal calls for Soper to be sentenced to 50 years in prison, with 15 years suspended, on the most serious charge-gross sexual imposition, a class AA felony.
The sentences on five other related crimes to run concurrently, meaning if the deal is accepted as presented, Soper would spend 35 years in prison, followed by 10 years of probation and a lifetime of registering as a sex offender.
The human trafficking charge was dropped.
In court Tuesday, Soper made a statement saying he pleaded guilty for several reasons, including the desire to avoid the possibility of even longer incarceration if found guilty in a trial, and to avoid a trial he said would be exploitative and disheartening for his family and friends and the victims and their families.
His guilty pleas mean Soper is admitting having sexual contact with boys under age 15, although in his statement to the court he said the boys had said they were 18.
Judge Doug Mattson ordered a pre-sentence investigation.
No official sentencing date has been set.
The other charges Soper pleaded guilty to were luring minors, corruption of a minor, possession of prohibited materials, promoting an obscene performance and indecent exposure.
Soper contacted the boy through smartphone app Grindr. The boy was able to identify the user as Soper from the Facebook account the man provided in case the boy's parents took away his phone.
The boy said Soper picked him up when he was able to sneak out of his parents' home while they were sleeping and drove him to Soper's Minot apartment and had sex with Soper and another male.
Soper is a Devils Lake native, a Devils Lake High School graduate and earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of North Dakota.
He began his education career in the late 1980s teaching English and speech in Walhalla, and also taught at Fort Totten.
After Soper earned his master's degree from UND in 1996, he became principal in Beach in far western North Dakota in 1997 and was later promoted to superintendent.
He then moved in 2002 to Colorado, where he was superintendent in the Park County and Lamar school systems.
According to the school's website, Soper had worked in Sawyer, a town of 350 people, since 2014.