Former Eden Prairie High School teacher pleads guilty to grooming a student

A former Eden Prairie High School teacher accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student is now pleading guilty to a criminal charge against him.

Craig Lee Hollenbeck, 51, of Minneapolis entered a petition to change his plea to guilty for one gross misdemeanor count of endangering a child.

If the judge accepts the plea deal terms, Hollenbeck will face a maximum of 30 days in jail followed by two years of supervised probation. His sentence is scheduled for March 6.

According to a criminal complaint, police received a report that Hollenbeck was having a relationship with a former student in September 2021. Contact between the two had begun in February and included exchanges via text and social media and in-person meetings.

The tip came from a mandated reporter who had spoken with Hollenbeck’s adult girlfriend. They added that the student would also meet with Hollenbeck in his classroom during a free class period and that he locked the door during that time.

Court documents show the student graduated high school in May 2021 and was in a class taught by Hollenbeck during the second semester of their senior year.

Investigators reviewed messages between Hollenbeck and the student, which showed Hollenbeck said he had fallen in love with the student. There are also messages that recount intimate moments that happened in his classroom.

Experts told police Hollenbeck’s actions amounted to grooming and could harm the victim’s emotional or mental health.

A spokesperson for Eden Prairie Schools said Hollenbeck’s last date of employment with the school district was Sept. 28, 2021.

Hollenbeck was charged via summons in October. He has not been taken into custody at any point during the criminal proceedings.