Future of Hill-Murray president in doubt after arrestby Tim Post, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Law enforcement officials Monday cited the president of Hill-Murray School with misdemeanor indecent conduct for an incident that occurred last week in St. Paul park.
School officials aren't saying much about the future of Joseph Peschges, who was relieved of his duties after his arrest.
Police say Peschges, 63, touched an undercover cop in the groin during a sex sting operation last Thursday afternoon at Crosby Farm Regional Park near the Mississippi River. He's scheduled to make an appearance in court Sept 1.
Peschges did not return several calls seeking comment, but has told Twin Cities media outlets that he did nothing wrong and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Peschges was president of the Hill-Murray Catholic school in Maplewood until the school's board of trustees relieved him of his duties.
A spokesman for the school wouldn't say whether the move was permanent. A statement sent to employees of the school and parents of students said the daily operations of the school would not be affected, and that the school's principal would act as president.
The spokesman said the matter is a private one, and directed questions to Peschges and the St. Paul Police Department.
St. Paul Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Crum says the undercover operation was the fifth this year at the park.
"This is in to response numerous citizen complaints about lewd conduct in those parks," said Crum. "In this detail in particular, there were nine people cited or arrested."
Crum said three of those people, including Peschges, were booked into jail because they made physical contact with the undercover officer.
Peschges is charged with a misdemeanor, which means he could face up to 90 days in jail, a fine as high as $1,000, or both.
A spokesperson for the Ramsey County Attorney's office says Peschges will not be charged with a gross misdemeanor, which could result in as much as a year in jail, because his actions didn't warrant such a charge.
A state Department of Education spokesperson says the department will not intervene in the incident because it involves the leader of a private school.
A Joseph M. Peschges is listed on the Education Department's website as having been licensed as a secondary school principal, a district superintendent, and a short call substitute in Latin and music. Those licenses all expired in the 1980s.
- All Things Considered, 07/19/2010, 5:24 p.m.