Braham teacher charged with criminal sexual conduct

By Rachel Kytonen

A physical education and health teacher at Braham High School is facing two counts of criminal sexual conduct from incidents that allegedly took place Nov. 21-22.

Christopher Calvin Vavra

Christopher Calvin Vavra, 25, of Isanti, was charged in 10th District Court in Cambridge on Monday, Nov. 28, with 2nd degree criminal sexual conduct and 4th degree criminal sexual conduct. Both charges are serious felonies, with the first charge including the fact that Vavra was in a position of authority over the victim.

According to the criminal complaint, the victim, a student at the high school under the age of 16, told school administrators that Vavra touched and fondled her during school hours on Nov. 21 and Nov. 22.

The victim said on Nov. 21 that Vavra had hugged her, told her he had a confession to make and that he “wanted to fool around with her.” The next day, the victim said Vavra approached her after class and asked her what she thought about what he had told her the prior day. The victim then indicated Vavra hugged her, kissed her, and fondled her body in different places over her clothing.

She said Vavra told her not tell anyone what had happened and told her, “I know you won’t tell because you are a good girl.”

According to the criminal complaint, when interviewed by law enforcement, Vavra said he knew the victim and she had stopped by his classroom on Nov. 21 and Nov. 22.

Vavra said she was talking to him about what he wanted for a birthday present and said she would get him a gift card, and then he hugged her. He noted she had given him a birthday present the prior year as well. In the complaint, Vavra admitted to asking the victim if she “wanted to fool around with him.”

Vavra said the next day he asked her how she was doing and apologized for what he said and gave her a hug and a kiss. He said he may have touched her buttocks during the exchange.

Braham Area Schools Superintendent Greg Winter said Vavra is on leave from the school district. Vavra started teaching in the district in September 2010.

Judge James Dehn said he would recuse himself from the case, and was only presiding over the Nov. 28 hearing because there weren’t any other judges available. Judge Dehn said although he doesn’t know Vavra personally, he has known the Vavra family and their friends for many years.

Judge Dehn set unconditional bail at $100,000 and conditional bail at $10,000. Vavra doesn’t have any prior criminal convictions except for a stop sign violation in 2004.

“The defendant violated the sacred trust of a teacher-student relationship,” said Chief Deputy County Attorney Tom Wedes. “The defendant admitted to the sexual contact, and the defendant asked the victim to cover it up. It was grooming behavior.”

Conditions of Vavra’s release include remain law abiding, attend all future court appearances, submit to a urine analysis prior to release, no alcohol or drug use, no entering bars or liquor establishments, no possession of firearms, no contact with the victim or family, no contact with Braham Area High School, no contact with minors (excluding incidental contact), and no contact with minors except in a supervised setting with an adult in the room.

Wedes said the case will be prosecuted by the Anoka County Attorney’s Office due to it being a conflict case for the Isanti County Attorney’s Office.

Vavra is being represented by local attorney Sherwood McKinnis, with his next court appearance set for Dec. 29.

Vavra is a 2005 graduate of Braham Area High School, and was a stand-out athlete in high school and college. He graduated from Bethel University in May 2010 with a BA in physical education and health.