Former Duluth school employee charged with sex crime
A former Harbor City International School educator and College of St. Scholastica employee has been charged with a sex crime following an alleged relationship with a 17-year-old student.
Christopher Donald Bacigalupo, 50, faces a felony count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. He was charged by summons in State District Court in Duluth and ordered to appear in court on Aug. 28.
The alleged victim told police that Bacigalupo was an advisor and counselor to her at the high school. She said they began a relationship that included “kissing, oral sex and other ‘stuff’ ” late in 2009, when she was a 17-year-old senior, according to the criminal complaint. That relationship progressed to include sexual intercourse after she turned 18 and was attending the College of St. Scholastica, where Bacigalupo was working at the time.
Bacigalupo allegedly admitted to a relationship with the girl, but said they did not engage in sexual intercourse until after she turned 18 and denied being in a position of authority over her.
The age of consent in Minnesota is typically 16, but state statutes allow for a person in a “position of authority” and more than four years older than a 16- or 17-year-old victim to be tried on criminal sexual conduct charges.
Bacigalupo, who worked in St. Scholastica’s information technology department, has not been with the college since July 17, according to spokesman Bob Ashenmacher. He has not worked at Harbor City for about four years, executive director Paul McGlynn told the News Tribune recently.
Bacigalupo also has been involved with the local music scene since at least the 1990s, when he played bass with the Fromundas — a band that had regular gigs at RT Quinlan’s Saloon. More recently, he’s performed as Major Izzy Lessmore in the sci-fi lounge band Tangier 57.
Attempts to reach Bacigalupo for comment on Monday were unsuccessful. Court records indicate that he has not yet retained an attorney.
According to the criminal complaint:
The alleged victim, now 22, came forward to police in June to report what she believed to be an inappropriate sexual relationship with Bacigalupo. She stated that she had known Bacigalupo, who taught theater classes, since she started at Harbor City as a freshman.
“(Bacigalupo) served as her advisor when she started at the school as a freshman and he continued to be the primary person that she would go to with issues while at Harbor City,” the complaint states. “She detailed a great amount of trust and she respected the defendant as her advisor and counselor.”
The sexual relationship began during her senior year in the fall of 2009, she reported. She stated they engaged in kissing and oral sex on two or three occasions at Harbor City.
“(She) noted that the defendant treated this as he was ‘teaching’ her and that he would make her feel special,” according to the complaint. “She also commented that the defendant would tell her not to discuss the relationship, as it would cost him his daughter. She also stated that he told her that she would lose friends.”
The girl also was enrolled in a Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program at St. Scholastica. Bacigalupo left Harbor City in February 2010 to go to work at the college, and the girl reported that their relationship progressed there after she turned 18. She eventually left for college, but said Bacigalupo continued to try to contact her.
“(She) stated that she felt concerned by the messages and as such reported the incident to her mother,” the complaint states. “As time has gone on, she stated she has realized that what the defendant had done was wrong and she wanted the matter reported.”
Bacigalupo declined to speak to police, but did provide a statement through an independent investigation conducted by St. Scholastica. He allegedly admitted to engaging in sexual intercourse, but said it did not occur until after the girl turned 18.
He said he saw the girl on a daily basis during her time at Harbor City, but did not realize she was attending St. Scholastica when he transferred there. He denied any power differential between the two, despite his professional position.