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Former Bemidji teacher denies sex crime charges

BEMIDJI -- A former teacher at Voyageurs Expeditionary School in Bemidji has plead not guilty to having sex with one of his students.

Paul Joseph Johnson, 48, of Backus, Minn., is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old female student. Johnson taught math at the school for five years. He was placed on unpaid leave and later terminated from his job at Voyageurs after the charges were brought against him in January.

A female student informed law enforcement she and Johnson were engaging in a romantic sexual relationship from October to December. Court documents say the student and Johnson engaged in sexual intercourse at least three times.

Johnson entered a not guilty plea in Beltrami County Court on Monday. He faces a  third-degree criminal sexual conduct charge, which carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment for not more than 15 years and/or a $30,000 fine.

Johnson has a pre-trial scheduled for Aug. 19 in Beltrami County Court.

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