Abuse Victim Files Lawsuit Against Forest Lake Schools and Lakes Center

Today, one of the students who was sexually abused by Forest Lake School District teacher James Carter, filed a civil lawsuit for damages against the District, the Lakes Center for Youth and Families and James Carter relating to sexual abuse by Carter from 2018 through 2020.

According to the Complaint filed in Washington County, beginning in the 2018 – 2019 school year, the student, who is identified as John Doe 705, interacted with James Carter after school while he participated in a community service program through the Lakes Center where he cleaned the Industrial Technology shop at Forest Lake Middle School.  Soon after beginning the community service, Carter encouraged the eighth-grade Doe 705 to switch academic advisors to Carter.  After completing the community service, James Carter began taking Doe 705 to church at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Forest Lake, where Carter volunteered in the youth programs.  During the 2018 – 2019 and 2019 – 2020 school years, Carter took Doe 705 from the school out-to-eat after school.  Carter also hired Doe 705 to perform miscellaneous tasks such as packing, moving, cleaning at Carter’s home.  During the same period, Carter began providing massages to Doe 705 and having sexual contact with Doe 705.

According to the complaint, in August 2020, Doe 705 told his parents about Carter’s misconduct and the family contacted the police.  On August 26, 2020 James Carter was arrested on charges of Criminal Sexual Conduct involving Doe 705 and another student.  On June 10, 2022, after a jury trial on the charges, James Carter was found guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree relating to his abuse of the Plaintiff, as well as criminal sexual conduct fourth degree.  On September 16, 2022, James Carter was sentenced to a suspended sentence of eighteen (18) months in prison, on the condition that he serve one (1) year incarcerated in the Washington County Jail, register as a predatory sex offender, participate in a sex offender treatment program, as well as a number of other conditions.

Doe 705’s parents believe that they have not only been betrayed by James Carter, but also betrayed by the Forest Lake School District and the Lakes Center for Youth and Families.  “What happened here is every parent’s nightmare.  A trusted teacher appears to show concern and dedication by giving a little extra care and attention to our son when he needed it, only to learn that the ‘concern’ and ‘dedication’ was a smoke screen to groom him for sexual abuse,”  said Doe 705’s mother.  “During the investigation of the criminal case, we learned that before James Carter abused our son, another parent had complained to the school about the inappropriateness of the relationship that James Carter had with their son.  How could the Lakes Center and the School approve our son having unsupervised contact with James Carter under these circumstances? We had no ability to know about this prior complaint,” added Doe 705’s mother.

Attorney Patrick Noaker, one of Doe 705’s attorneys, is also concerned that there may be other boys who experienced inappropriate conduct from James Carter. Noaker says “there have been reports that James Carter had a large number of boys work for him at his home.  This was one of the ways that James Carter groomed and isolated Doe 705.  We are concerned that these other boys were also victims of criminal sexual conduct.”  

When asked what Doe 705’s family hoped to accomplish by this lawsuit, Noaker indicated that “now the hard work of helping this young man to recover from this devastating betrayal must begin.  It will take time, treatment and patience at a time when he should be having light-hearted fun with his friends instead of bearing the burden of trauma.”

Nationally recognized Los Angeles attorney, Paul Mones, who also represents Doe 705, and will seek admission pro hac vice to participate in the lawsuit, said: “One of a school’s most important and fundamental duties is to protect a student’s safety, including from being sexually abused by teachers and staff.  We are proud of Doe 705’s bravery in coming forward to report that Mr. Carter abused him.” 

Patrick Noaker is an attorney with offices in St. Louis Park who has represented hundreds of survivors of sexual assault across the country.  Patrick is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and has won multiple jury verdicts and settlements exceeding a million dollars. Patrick is licensed to practice law in Minnesota, New York, New Jersey and Missouri.

Paul Mones is an attorney based in Los Angeles, California. For over thirty years, Paul Mones has been a leading nationwide advocate for victims of child sexual abuse, representing numerous people who had been sexually abused as children by their teachers, Boy Scout leaders, priests, ministers, coaches, employers, teachers as well as by their parents and relatives.  Over the course of his career, Paul has obtained millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for clients all over the nation.  Paul is admitted to practice in California, Oregon, Massachusetts and New York.

If you have any information regarding misconduct or suspicious conduct by James Carter please email firm@noakerlaw.com or call Noaker Law Firm (952) 491-6798.