West Fargo middle school teacher charged with sex crimes involving teen boys
WEST FARGO – A former middle school teacher is facing three felony charges after allegedly sharing hundreds of sexually explicit Snapchat videos and photos with two male students and having sex with one along a gravel road.
Shannon Moser, 37, of Moorhead, was charged in Cass County District Court with two counts of using a minor in a sexual performance, Class A felonies, and one count of sexual assault, a Class C felony. Moser was a science teacher at Liberty Middle School since fall 2016 and resigned July 12.
Moser’s attorney, Scott Brand, said Monday, July 23, that the case is still in very early stages and it would be premature to discuss it. However, Brand said Moser has had no other criminal activity and has been engaged in her community as a volunteer.
“She’s mentored younger women and mothers who went through a tough upbringing,” he said. “She has been an instrumental person in people’s lives in a positive way.”
According to a police report filed in district court:
West Fargo police received an anonymous tip in June that Moser was having sex with a male student in Rendezvous Park in West Fargo and giving him electronic tobacco products.
More anonymous complaints came in alleging that Moser had shared nude Snapchat photos with a 16-year-old West Fargo student.
Police interviewed the student on July 3, and the student denied an inappropriate relationship with Moser. But police interviewed the student’s friend who claimed the student had talked about having sex with Moser in the park.
Police re-interviewed the student, who had told his mother that he had sex with Moser. The student told police he had known Moser personally for about two years, as she was considered a family friend. They had added each other on Snapchat in May or early June, and she began sending him sexually explicit photos and messages.
After about three days, the student said Moser asked to meet, and the two met at Rendezvous Park sometime in early June during the evening. The boy got in her van, and they drove west of West Fargo, where she pulled over on a gravel road and the two had sex.
At that time, Moser told the student, “no one can know,” according to the report.
The student said Moser shared more photos following the encounter and asked at least once more if he wanted to have sex, but he declined.
On July 11, Moser agreed to speak with investigators at the Moorhead Police Department after officers picked her up from her home.
According to the police report, early on in the interview Moser was reluctant to answer any questions, and she kept asking what would happen to her husband and four children, saying it will ruin their lives. She denied the student’s allegations, but said “we always preach, ‘tell the truth,’ and I have not been,” according to the report.
Moser eventually asked to speak to an attorney, but police seized her cellphone during the interview and later found URLs for porn sites that included younger boys engaging in sex with older women.
West Fargo police said a second victim, a 15-year-old boy, told officers on July 16 that he and Moser had been sharing sexually explicit photos through Snapchat for about a year, starting when he was 14 years old.
The second boy told police he never had any physical contact with Moser, but said she had asked to meet him in person. He said he received videos of Moser and her husband having sex, according to the report.
Heather Konshak, a West Fargo schools spokeswoman, said in a statement that police briefed school officials on the investigation into Moser on July 12 and officers asked the district to hold off on its own investigation into the allegations while the police investigation continued.
“Since school is not in session, the district could confirm that Mrs. Moser does not currently have any contact with students through school-related functions,” Konshak said. “That same day, Mrs. Moser sent her letter of resignation to the district. West Fargo Public Schools will continue cooperating with the Police Department in their investigation, and will not comment further, in order to not jeopardize their progress.”
An improvement plan had been placed in Moser’s teaching file during the 2017-18 school year regarding her conduct in the classroom.
According to records in Moser’s personnel file, students complained she was letting some kids call her “Kim Kardashian,” and she would require some students to follow the dress code closer than others. Students alleged Moser had attended a student party in the summer of 2017 and took photos with some students. They also claimed Moser had let a group of seventh-graders order pizza and eat their lunch in her classroom rather than the lunchroom, which is against school policies.
Staff had also noticed Moser’s interactions with male students and questioned whether she was crossing student-teacher relationship boundaries. In one instance, a co-worker saw Moser playing basketball with an eighth-grade boy at the Family Wellness Center and noted “the interactions appeared to be uncomfortable because of the physical nature of the basketball game and their interactions appeared to cross student/teacher boundaries,” the district report said.
According to School District documents dated April 26, Moser had met the expectations of her improvement plan and her contract was recommended for renewal.
“Concerns brought forward by students and parents about Mrs. Moser were addressed in accordance with North Dakota Century Code, district policy, and were reviewed by district legal counsel,” Konshak said in a statement.
On Monday, Moser was booked into the Cass County Jail. An arraignment hearing is set for 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 24.