Ex-foster father gets 12 years in prison for sexually abusing two boys in his care

He took young children into his home as a foster parent.
Then he abused them.
A former St. Paul foster father pleaded guilty Monday to sexually abusing two boys in his care.
On the day his trial was to start, Joseph Leonard Larson, 34, of Minneapolis submitted Alford pleas to the charges, meaning he did not directly admit guilt but agreed that the state had enough evidence to convict him.
He will be sentenced June 28 to at least 12 years in prison.
Speaking softly, Foster offered simple "yes" or "no" answers to questions by Ramsey County Prosecutor Eric Leonard.
Two former foster children — one now an adult — disclosed separately that Larson had abused them when they were living at his home in the 600 block of Charles Avenue.
The first boy lived with Larson from about April through July 2003, when he was 15, Larson agreed. No one besides Larson and his foster children lived at the house.
In May 2010, the boy told a detective in Hartford, Conn., that Larson had approached him in the bathroom at one point and performed sex acts.
According to the criminal complaint, the boy said "he did not like the defendant and he was afraid of him." Larson would hug him "a lot" and French-kiss him. The boy said he eventually ran away from Larson's home.
The second boy lived at the home from late August 2003 through Jan. 1, 2006, when he was ages 9 to 11, Larson agreed. His older brother lived there for a time, too.
The boy told a nurse and others at the Midwest Children's Resource Center in St. Paul in February 2010 that Larson had raped him on more than one occasion.
The criminal complaint quoted the boy as saying, "It made my body feel weak and hurt." He didn't tell anyone about the abuse earlier, he said, because he was afraid.
A third boy, who visited Larson's house occasionally, might also have been called as a witness had the case gone to trial, Leonard said. That boy told investigators that Larson kissed him and placed him on his lap "or otherwise made him uncomfortable," Leonard said.
Larson was licensed to provide child foster care in Ramsey County from December 2002 to May 2006, according to the state Department of Human Services.
He applied for another license in December 2007, but it was revoked a year later. He did not house any children during that time.
In a revocation order sent to Larson, the department said Larson had not been truthful in his application for the second license.
The department had found out after approving Larson that the previous license had been closed "due to a pending investigation of you by law enforcement." Larson also said in his application that he had never held a previous license.
A 2004 background check on Larson disclosed that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency had discovered that two of his credit cards were used to buy access to child pornography websites in 2002 and 2003 and that his email address was connected to those purchases, the criminal complaint said.
It was not clear from the complaint why the background check was being conducted.
When investigators came to Larson's home with questions, he said his credit cards had been stolen. He believed his email address was compromised as well, he told them.
In February 2010, after the first boy's allegations came to light, police executed a search warrant for the Coon Rapids home where he lived at the time. They found "many thousands of images of child pornography," according to the criminal complaint.
Larson acknowledged that the state would have presented that pornography evidence at trial. The porn charge will be dropped as part of the plea agreement.
Larson is out on bail.
The plea agreement calls for Larson to be permanently registered as a predatory offender. After his prison term ends, he'll be on conditional release for at least 10 years and possibly for life.