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Bemidji teacher found dead one week after he's charged with molesting young students

John Thorn Wangberg

BEMIDJI, Minn. - A former elementary teacher charged here last week with sex crimes against children is dead.

John Thorn Wangberg, 58, of rural Cass Lake, was found deceased in his home about 3 p.m. Wednesday, according to law enforcement investigating his death.

On Jan. 23, Wangberg was arraigned on two felony counts of sexual conduct in the second degree and a gross misdemeanor charge of non-consensual sexual conduct in the fifth degree.

He had taught for 30 years at Bemidji's Central Elementary School, but resigned days before the first of three alleged victims came forward in March 2011.

The felony charges allege that Wangberg engaged in sexual contact with victims between the ages of 5 and 7 on school property. The first victim reported the alleged abuse on March 16, 2011 - two days after Wangberg resigned, according to a search warrant application filed by the Bemidji Police Department and obtained by the Pioneer.

Prior to his resignation, Wangberg's work computer was seized, and on it, a Bemidji police officer allegedly found images of young girls in bikinis. According to the search warrant application, the first victim told police that Wangberg had shown the images to her saying, "when you grow up you can be in a bikini and look like my daughter."

At last week's court hearing, Beltrami County District Judge John Melbye set Wangberg's bail was set at $5,000.