Fargo school lunch monitor sentenced for sex with 14-year-old
Ruthie Anne Carlson, 20, pleaded guilty to three felony counts: gross sexual imposition, possessing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with intent to deliver or manufacture, and child neglect.
FARGO — A former lunch monitor at Ben Franklin Middle School was sentenced to 30 months in prison Monday, March 20, after pleading guilty to having sexual relations with a 14-year-old boy.
Ruthie Anne Carlson, 20, pleaded guilty on Jan. 17 in Cass County District Court to three felony counts : gross sexual imposition, possessing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with intent to deliver or manufacture, and child neglect.
The incident became public when students at the middle school alerted administration to a Snapchat video of a shirtless boy in boxer shorts brushing his teeth along with Carlson, who was dressed only in a T-shirt, according to prosecutor Brianna Kraft.
“If you recall in this case, it is similar to another case we discussed this morning, she abused her position of power and had sexual relations with a 14 year old student,” said Kraft, alluding to the case of Sebastian Tackling, a former Fargo South High School band teacher.
Earlier on Monday, District Judge Reid Brady sentenced Tackling to 30 months in prison and five years probation for having sex with a 17-year-old student.
In Carlson's case, the prosecution asked for eight years imprisonment and five years probation, feeling uncertain if Carlson could become a repeat offender. She used Snapchat to send pictures of an explicit nature to gain the victim’s interest, Kraft said.
Monty Mertz, Carlson’s attorney, asked that his client be sentenced to five years of probation and only to the 201 days she's already served in jail.
“Ruthie was only 19 years old when this went on, and to compare her to the gentleman this morning, who was in his 40s and an educator for 20 years … Ruthie was a part-time lunchtime monitor. She worked 1.5 hours a day,” Mertz said.
“This is another one of those times that we feel there is a breach of trust,” Kraft said, adding that the defense’s claim that no harm was done was unknown at this point.
“I really don’t know how you can justify this conduct. You were an employee of a middle school and you took advantage of students there,” Kraft said.
Judge Brady said that although there were similarities in the two cases, Carlson’s actions did not rise to the level of Tackling’s breach of trust.
“This is distinct from a teacher of 20 years as opposed to a part-time lunchtime employee. Thus, despite the offense level being more significant, the court finds that the conduct in the other case is more egregious,” Brady said.
The marijuana paraphernalia and THC found in Carlson’s apartment added to the severity of her case. Investigators came across 640 THC vape cartridges, according to court documents. Kraft said this was the largest amount local law enforcement had ever found in one location. The drugs and paraphernalia were accessible to Carlson's 2-year-old child, court documents said.
Along with prison time, Judge Brady ordered Carlson to serve five years of supervised probation and to register as a sex offender.
Court records alleged Carlson had sex with the boy on Dec. 1, 2021. The Fargo School District determined Carlson violated a number of policies and she was fired Dec. 20, 2021, according to court documents.