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UPDATE: Glenwood City teacher, coach charged with child sex crimes

Peter Gaustad

A Glenwood City social studies teacher, coach and city council member is facing multiple felony charges amid allegations he had an online sexual relationship with a Missouri child.

St. Croix County prosecutors charged Peter L. Gaustad, 45, with five felonies, including child sexual exploitation, expose child to harmful material, and cause child 13-18 to view sex activity and use a computer to facilitate a child sex crime Friday afternoon. Bail was set at $100,000 at Gaustad’s initial appearance.

According to a news release from Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel’s office Friday, the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office and Glenwood City Police Department arrested Gaustad Thursday, April 5 at his Glenwood City home after a search warrant was executed at his home and belongings at his workplace.

According to the criminal complaint:

The Boone County Sheriff’s Office in Missouri referred the case to Wisconsin law enforcement after discovering, in recent months, Gaustad’s alleged sexual online communications with a Missouri juvenile female.

A 15-year-old female high school sophomore from Missouri told authorities there in March that she began communicating with Gaustad on an app called Whisper, where no could see her true identity, on or about Nov. 1, 2017. Police conducted interviews with the girl after her mother came to authorities once a school counselor called her to report comments the girl had made about communicating with an older man.

The girl told her mother that she had sent several nude photos to a 45-year-old teacher in Glenwood City, Wis., though she at first refused to give a name. She revealed that Gaustad also sent her several nude photos, some of him masturbating.

The girl told police that the relationship began on Whisper when Gaustad responded to a post she wrote about wanting to date teachers, but moved to Snapchat in January or February. She said Gaustad was easy to talk to and made her feel comfortable; she alleged he told her he had been teaching for 19 years and is a ninth grade basketball coach.

Police asked the girl if Gaustad ever talked of coming to her town; she said yes, and that he told her he is a big basketball fan. She said he described a girl he coached as “hot and pretty,” and that made her concerned. She noted that she changed Gaustad’s name in her phone and iPad when saving messages from him.

At 10:05 a.m. April 5, a special agent interviewed Gaustad at Glenwood City High School, along with a St. Croix County Sheriff’s investigator. He told police he thought he was engaged in an online sexual relationship with a teen girl who was about 17. When authorities read parts of conversations to Gaustad recovered from Whisper, he said they sounded consistent with chats he had had with the juvenile girl.

During the course of the interview, Gaustad mentioned the sites “Motherless” and Omegle” by name. He also admitted to speaking in sexually explicit conversations with other people online but was unsure if they were underage or not. When given the opportunity to write an apology letter to the girl, Gaustad did so.

He was then arrested.

The Glenwood City School District website lists Gaustad as assistant girls varsity basketball coach, girls junior varsity basketball coach and girls varsity head softball coach.

There was no indication any Glenwood City children were victimized, according to the sheriff's office.

Regional editor Sarah Nigbor contributed to this report.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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