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Teacher faces 2 felony charges in connection to relationship with student

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- A Grand Forks Central High School science teacher is facing two felonies and up to 15 years in prison for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a student.

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GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- A Grand Forks Central High School science teacher is facing two felonies and up to 15 years in prison for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a student.

James Patrick Whalen, 41, of Grand Forks has been charged with two counts of corruption or solicitation of a minor, one accusing him of engaging in a sexual act at the school and another for an act with the same minor at a private residence, according to the Grand Forks County State's Attorney's Office.

The first charge is a Class B felony carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $20,000 fine or both. The second is a class C felony, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.

Both incidents allegedly took place between Nov. 14, 2015, and Feb. 22.

Court papers state school officials interviewed Whalen, who admitted having a sexual relationship with a student, referred to as Jane Doe in the documents.

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The student confirmed having sex with Whalen two times, once in Minnesota during the first week in January 2016 and the other at Whalen's home in Grand Forks on Valentine's Day when she was older than 15 but still a minor.

The student also disclosed Whalen had sexual contact with her inside Central High School between January 2016 to Feb. 22, 2016, according to court records.

Police received a report Feb. 22 claiming Whalen engaged in a sexual relationship with a female student. An investigation led to the charge of corruption or solicitation of a minor, which was forwarded to the Grand Forks County State's Attorney's office for review earlier this week.

According to Grand Forks Public Schools on Wednesday, Whalen has submitted his resignation, effective March 1. He had been placed on administrative leave Feb. 22, the same day police received the report.

On Wednesday, a warrant for Whalen's arrest was issued and an order prohibiting contact between Whalen and the student was filed.

Whalen has worked for school as a science teacher since August 1998, according to the school district.

Grand Forks Public Schools notified Central High School parents of the situation and is cooperating with the Grand Forks Police Department in its investigation.

The North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board said it had not received information on Whalen to review as of Tuesday afternoon.

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Whalen was the science department head at Central High School, according to the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board.

He received his bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry from the University of North Dakota and graduated from Grand Forks Central High School in 1993.

Whalen did not respond to a call for comment. A date for Whalen to appear in court on the charges has not been set, according to court records.

Police said the investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to contact the Grand Forks Police Department by calling (701)780-8000, emailing investigate@grandforks.gov or texting the word "Tipster" at the tip to 847411.

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