A federal judge has ordered former St. Paul teacher Gregg Alan Larsen to pay $240,000 to a man who was once his foster son for using him in the production of child pornography.
Pierre Larsen, a foster child who was 11 when Larsen adopted him, won the judgment on Wednesday, March 14.
It was only the second time a plaintiff has successfully used the federal "Masha's Law" to obtain restitution for a victim of child porno-graphy, said Pierre Larsen's attorney, Patrick Noaker of Anderson and Associates. The law was named for a 5-year-old Russian orphan adopted by an American man who began abusing her the night she arrived at his home and recorded the abuse for distribution.
"We really are doing this as a deterrent," Noaker said. "We would love it if just one person thinks about engaging in that (child pornography) world and they just think in the back of their heads, 'Oh, geez, what if I get sued?'
"And I want people to worry so they won't do it," he said.
Larsen, 50, of Minneapolis was convicted in 2010 of possession and production of child pornography, which he also put online. He was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison
According to the prosecutor, Larsen took photos and video of Pierre Larsen, another adopted son, foster sons, the boys' friends and his students with a camera hidden in a bathroom in his home.
Noaker said it went beyond taking pictures, however.
"Larsen had sexual contact with Pierre both on and off camera," he said.
Larsen worked as a special education teacher at Central High School from 2003 to 2009. He also supervised the film and paint ball clubs.
Pierre Larsen, now 23, had testified during his adopted father's criminal trial that he thought he had found a "real parent" to save him from the abusive one who began raising him.
"But unfortunately, the price of admission was he had to endure the sexual assault and pornography," Noaker said.
Larsen pleaded guilty to the criminal charges and said at his November 2010 sentencing, "What I did was heinous."
After the abuse and pornography production had gone on for about six years, Pierre Larsen ran away from home, according to his court affidavit and testimony. He was 16 and subsequently was homeless for five years.
He continues to suffer the consequences of the abuse, Noaker said.
"This kid testified he had to quit a job because they had cameras everywhere," the attorney said. A psychologist testified at a hearing in the lawsuit that Pierre Larsen would need an estimated 200 hours of therapy over the course of his adult life.
Nevertheless, Noaker said, "I'm sure he'll be excited that the judge believed him."
Gregg Larsen did not respond to the lawsuit. U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen ordered the judgment.
While collecting on the judgment may be difficult, if not impossible, Noaker said Larsen "may have assets," including a pension.
A similar lawsuit filed against Larsen by another boy and his guardians was dismissed in January. The boy was a friend of Larsen's children. Another lawsuit, involving two boys who were foster children of Larsen in 2006, when they were 5 and 7, is pending.