Former Cooper High School employee sentence

Tajreed Rich, 41, of Minneapolis will serve 180 days in the Hennepin County Workhouse along with five years of probation for third-degree criminal sexual conduct. (Submitted photo)

Tajreed Rich, a former Cooper High School employee, was sentenced to 180 days in the Hennepin County Workhouse by Judge Gina M. Brandt of Hennepin County Court Oct. 1.

Formerly a hall monitor at Cooper High School, 41-year-old Rich was charged June 11 with third-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly having sex with a 17-year-old student.

Robbinsdale Police arrested Rich at a Robbinsdale home June 7.

According to the criminal complaint, the victim’s father returned home from work approximately 3 p.m. June 7 and found Rich and his daughter naked.

The girl told officers she had had sexual intercourse with Rich on two separate occasions and performed oral sex on another occasion.

The girl is a student at Cooper High School.

Rich had been a hall monitor and was a staff member serving the boys football team.

Although he was not a licensed counselor at the school, he had been providing counseling to students, according to the complaint.

Immediately following the charges, Rich was fired.

The girl told officers Rich had previously counseled her about relationships with male students, according to the complaint.

Rich had been an employee at Cooper High School for more than two years.

According to Tia Clasen, former marketing and communications program director for Robbinsdale Area Schools, the district performs background checks on all of its employees prior to hire.

“I think parents have a right to expect when their kids are at school that the people who are employed at that school are not going to mess with their daughters or sons,” said Michael Freeman, Hennepin County attorney.

In June the district released this statement:

“This is a horrible incident, and the district finds acts such as this reprehensible.  The safety and well-being of our students is our top priority, and our hearts go out to the family during this time. Robbinsdale Area Schools and Cooper High School are working closely with police on this matter, and we will continue to support Cooper students and families during this time.”

Following his first hearing June 12, Rich posted bail for $30,000 with conditions.

On Aug. 16 Rich plead guilty to the charges.

The victim’s family submitted a letter for the Oct. 1 sentence hearing stating the impact Rich’s actions made on the victim and her family however the family requested the letter not be read aloud in court.

In addition to his time spent in the workhouse, Rich is required to obey the conditions of a five-year probationary period.

Probation conditions include internet surveillance, only supervised contact with minor females, no contact with victim or victim’s family, and register with the state as a sex offender among others.

Rich is also required to enter a sex offender treatment program.

“It seems you are an exceptional candidate to succeed with that program,” Brandt said. “I don’t say that lightly.”

Mark Miller, Rich’s attorney, requested that the court lower the sentence due to Rich’s full cooperation and prompt guilty plea in the case.

“I simply ask court to give him some credit for his cooperation,” Miller said.

Miller said the 180-day sentence did not seem to adequately reflect Rich’s cooperation with the court.

“Make no mistake about it this was a choice,” Miller said. “Hopefully treatment will help him gain insight into why he would do this if he knew it was wrong.”

Despite Miller’s attempt, Brandt kept the sentence as stated.

“I do feel 180 days is an appropriate sentence for the crime,” she said.

Two reports completed on Rich –a psycho sexual evaluation and presentence investigation – showed Rich to be low risk to re-offend.

“You are very aware of the fact it is your abuse of position of authority that is the biggest portion of this,” Brandt said. “I believe that is the biggest abuse of the trust of a child.”

If Rich violates his probation he will be sentenced to serve 36 months at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud.

Brandt does not foresee Rich returning to court; however, if he does she requested he be seen by her as she is familiar with his case.

“I will hopefully never see you back again,” Brandt said.

Rich is scheduled to report to the workhouse Oct. 14.

Rich made only one comment during his sentence hearing Oct. 1.

“I would like to apologize to the (victim’s) family, my family, Robbinsdale Cooper and everyone affected,” he said.

 

Contact Gina Purcell at gina.purcell@ecm-inc.com

 

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