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Former Duluth teacher convicted of sex abuse now directs Arizona choir

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news Perham, 56573
Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

A former Duluth high school teacher convicted of sexually abusing two students now is working as the choir director at an Arizona church, and that has drawn the ire of an abuse victims’ advocacy group.

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Eric Holtan, 42, who taught music classes at Duluth East High School, admitted in 2000 that he had repeated sexual contact with 15-year-old and 16-year-old students. He since has relocated to Tucson, Ariz., where he now serves as the choir director for Dove of Peace Lutheran Church.

“It’s inherently reckless to put a convicted child molester in any position of authority over kids,” David Clohessy, the executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, told the News Tribune.

“Either church officials and others in Tucson were irresponsible and did little or no background check, or even worse, they knew about his crimes and put him around unsuspecting families and vulnerable kids regardless,” Clohessy said.

SNAP, a leading national network for sexual abuse victims, plans to picket outside the church Sunday. The group is seeking Holtan’s immediate removal from his position.

The church’s pastor did not immediately return a call for comment Thursday, and it is unclear what contact Holtan has had with children at the church.

Under the terms of his probation, Holtan is not allowed to have unsupervised contact with underage females, and Clohessy said he believes Holtan has violated that condition.

Holtan, who was convicted of first-degree and third-degree criminal sexual conduct, was ordered at his 2000 sentencing to serve two years at the Northeast Regional Corrections Center, register as a sex offender and meet the conditions of his probation for 15 years. Any violation of that probation could result in him being sent back to prison for more than 16 years.

Holtan could not be reached for comment on this story.

Tom Olsen, Duluth News Tribune

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