Paul Conrad, former Mankato elementary teacher with foot fetish, faces child porn charge

KEYC screengrab
Conrad won a Golden Apple teaching award from Mankato-area TV station KEYC less than two months before he lost his job.
After a string of creepy incidents involving students' feet that spanned half a decade, Paul Conrad finally lost his job as a second-grade teacher at Hoover Elementary School in North Mankato in November 2011.

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More than two years later, the award-winning teacher was charged with possession of child pornography after three witnesses saw him looking at pictures of young females wearing swimming suits, some topless, at Mankato State University's Centennial Library.

In court last Friday, investigators said they'd need a couple more months to examine the computer Conrad was using on that fateful November day before his trial can begin, the Mankato Free Press reports. Conrad's attorney claims the images his client was looking at weren't pornographic. Conrad says he was simply looking for jobs.

A Mankato Free Press report details the foot fetish that resulted in Conrad losing his teaching job in the first place:
Conrad's mugshot.
[During the 2007-08 school year] A mother reported her daughter told Conrad she had a sore foot that year. The girl told her mother she felt awkward after Conrad told her to take off her shoes and socks, then massaged her feet.

Several more incidents were reported the following year. Teachers raised concerns after seeing students leaving Conrad's room and going to the bathroom with no shoes on. Those students told the teachers they didn't have to wear shoes in Conrad's room. Teachers raised concerns again after learning Conrad had provided jeweled flip-flop shoes to girls in his class and the classes of other teachers.

At least three parents complained to other teachers about Conrad rubbing their daughters' feet after school, a teacher reported seeing a girl giving Conrad a back massage, and a teacher reported seeing Conrad rubbing a female student's ears that year. A teacher also confronted Conrad after seeing him taking pictures of girls' bare feet during the end-of-the-year picnic.

During the 2009-10 school year, teachers raised concerns about Conrad because he was joking about "talking to little boys at the urinals." One teacher told him that was inappropriate and he should use the staff bathroom.

Multiple students also reported that year that Conrad frequently rubbed their feet or their friends' feet after school. One student reported every girl in his class had received a foot massage. After seeing students weren't wearing shoes in class again, a teacher reported he told Conrad the students should be wearing shoes for safety reasons.

More students reported Conrad had given them foot massages after school during the 2010-11 school year. A teacher also intervened after seeing fourth-grade students hanging on Conrad on the playground. Some of the girls were hitting him on the butt, the suspension letter said. The teacher watched for a while and intervened after Conrad didn't ask them to stop, the letter said.
In August 2011, district administrators sent Conrad a "last chance" letter ordering him to cut out the creepiness or risk losing his job.

"[W]e continue to see a disturbing pattern of behavior relating to students' feet beginning with the 2007-08 school year and occurring each year since that time and this has caused concern," the letter, which was obtained by the Free Press, says. "Please be advised that this letter serves as your last warning about the matter... Failure to follow the directives or any further incidents of this nature will result in termination of your employment."

In November of that year, Conrad resigned. The circumstances surrounding his resignation aren't public information due to privacy laws.

Asked about his client's foot fetish by the Free Press, Conrad's lawyer, Jim Fleming, said it has nothing to do with the child porn charge. In fact, Fleming said one of his children had been a student of Conrad's.

"My understanding was he always had an excellent reputation as a teacher," Fleming said.

Indeed, Conrad actually won a teaching award from Mankato-area TV station KEYC in September 2011, less than two months before he resigned. In an interview about the award, he told the station, "Storytelling is a really good way to help students to really get their attention. Also, to provide activity and learning and variety so it is not just the same old, 'Get out your pencils and notebooks and let's start writing or reading.' It is a fun way to approach it."

"I like to interject humor and just a variety of ways of teaching," Conrad continued.

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