Former School Counselor Facing Three Sexual Battery Charges
By Keith Kinnaird
Bonner County Daily Bee
June 1, 2007
More charges possible
Sandpoint — Bail is set at $100,000 for a former boarding school
counselor who is accused of engaging in lewd conduct with at least two
students at Elk Mountain Academy near Clark Fork.
Louis W. Ladenburger, 70, is charged with three counts of sexual battery
of a minor between the ages of 16 and 17, a felony punishable by up to
25 years in state prison.
Ladenburger declined the services of a court-appointed public defender
when he went before Judge Barbara Buchanan on Thursday.
"I think I should seek my own attorney," Ladenburger said.
Ladenburger, who was fired immediately after the allegations surfaced,
is accused of fondling a 17-year-old boy between February and April. He
is further accused of performing oral sex on the teen sometime during
the same time frame.
The third count involves alleged fondling of another 17-year-old boy between
March and April, according to the criminal complaint.
The allegations came to light on May 5, after the first teen disclosed
to his parents during a visit that Ladenburger had inappropriate sexual
contact with him, Bonner County Prosecutor Phil Robinson told Buchanan
during an earlier hearing on Thursday.
The allegations were reported to school officials, who turned over the
information to the Bonner County Sheriff's Office, said Robinson.
The ensuing investigation led to the discovery of the second alleged victim.
Sheriff's deputies interviewed 17 students, all of whom advised that Ladenburger
would press them about their sexual orientation, experiences and acts
they might want to engage in the future, Robinson told the court.
Students who were interviewed also related that Ladenburger would touch
their thighs, rub their backs and kiss — or attempt to kiss —
them, Robinson added. The alleged touching occurred during counseling
"There may be other charges filed," Robinson said, explaining
that those charges could range from simple battery to solicitation.
Ladenburger's whereabouts were unknown during the investigation. However,
Ladenburger reportedly hit a deer on Highway 200 in Hope on Wednesday.
Deputy Tony Riffel, a Special Victims Unit detective, learned who was
involved in the collision and went to interview Ladenburger.
"Mr. Ladenburger acknowledged that he considered himself a sexual
addict and had struggled with sexually inappropriate behaviors for a long
period of time prior to coming to the academy and all the time he was
there. He readily acknowledged that he had touched many of the students
and he was described that as just being affectionate," Robinson told
Ladenburger allegedly confessed to misconduct with the first teen, but
said he had no recollection of sexual contact with the second teen, Robinson
Robinson also told the court that Ladenburger admitted to struggling with
sexually inappropriate desires while he was a priest, a fact that he concealed
when he was hired on at Elk Mountain.
A preliminary hearing to determine if Ladenburger should be tried on the
three sexual battery charges is set for June 13 in the magistrate division
of 1st District Court.
Post Your Opinion
[Opinions downloaded 10/3/08.]
Xoan wrote on Jul 5, 2008 10:22 PM:
" I went there and this is gross. My parents paid $60 thousand dollars
to have me cut wood, dig out stumps, and fix up the owners and staff's
houses. Allthough I did get a diploma and met a bunch of really cool people.
The owners are to blame for keeping this guy on after a lot of us made
comments to the staff. Thats total b.s. that I had to mke the decision
to either see a owner/therapist who is never ther(were talking one session
in 3 months) or a creapy old dude who you know is going to be there...and
it's called a "theraputic boarding school". Right. "
[One comment redacted.]
John wrote on Jan 4, 2008 7:17 PM:
" Louie was also my therapist while he was in Las Vegas. It is my
opinion that this article is extremely biased. I know many people who
have been clients of Mr. Ladenburger, and none of them have a negative
opinion of him. I know Louie to be and extremely caring and affectionate
human being. Many people who require the type of counseling Louie performs
come from homes where not enough affection was shown, causing affectionate
behavior to be mis-interpreted. Speaking of which, I find it comical that
while describing the “touching” (“touch their thighs,
rub their backs and kiss -- or attempt to kiss”) no where does it
mention hugging any clients, which is common practice in most every recovery
environment. Enquiring into a person’s sexual history is also common
practice (for those who don’t know, an individual’s sexual
behavior is up there with drug use for “high risk” activities).
I also want to point out that the fact that the prosecutor is recommending
probation to his guilty plea of assault (not sexual assault). If what
this article is 100% factual, no prosecutor would do that. "
Connor wrote on Nov 16, 2007 7:06 PM:
" Louie was my therapist for a while while I was a student at EMA.
He was a pretty affectionate person, but he never came onto me at all.
I guess I wasn't his type. Anyway, it's too bad that Louie went and did
a thing like that. I didn't know him very long, but a lot of guys said
he really helped them with their problems. "
Dan Rynkowski wrote on Nov 6, 2007 11:37 AM:
" I was also a former student at Elk Mountain Academy and Louie was
my therapist at the time, and i was never touched or anything by him.
He is by far one of the most carring person i have ever met in my life,
and he has helped me get so far as i am now. I feel bad for Louie and
what has happend, but people have to know what a carring and helpful person
he is. I thank him for what he has helped me over come. He is an amazing
former resident wrote on Oct 29, 2007 6:47 PM:
" well i am the victim of this "incident" and i want to
thank you for portaying it accurately "
Sandpoint Rocks! wrote on Jun 13, 2007 5:51 PM:
" I'm confused with the notion that if he helped you it's okay for
him to rape someone else - is there a tally system? Help 1 get 1 free?
Bridgee Jackson wrote on Jun 9, 2007 1:23 PM:
" I WAS A STUDENT AT ELK MOUNTAIN ACADEMY WHILE LEWIE WAS WORKING
THERE. HE NEVER TOUCHED ME OR DID ANYTHING CLOSE TO WHAT THESE TWO COMPLAINTS
SAY. LEWIE HELPED ME THROUGH A LOT OF STUFF WHILE I WAS THERE. EVEN IF
THIS IS TRUE I STILL LOVE THE GUY...THE BEST THERAPIST I COULD HAVE ASKED
FOR. HE NEVER ASKED IF I WERE HOMOSEXUAL AND SURELY NEVER PRESSED ME ABOUT
ANYTHING HAVING TO DO WITH THIS. HE IS A GREAT PERSON. "
former resident wrote on Jun 4, 2007 9:48 AM:
" KXLY reportedly (www.kxly.com/news/index.php?story_id=11560) contacted
the diocese where this guy used to work. They were not initially honest,
but then changed their answer. Prior to this incident, there was NO information
available (quick, Google it). ALL licensed schools do a background check.
No one gets to be called a sex offender until they've been convicted (or
at least accused of being one). If you have some new way of knowing who
sex offenders are before they've been reported, there are a whole lot
of past, present and future victims who would love to hear you come out
with it. The church, schools, businesses and government have a responsibility
to NEVER cover up this type of behavior. If the church had done its job
instead of trying to cover this up, as has been its policy, there would
have been two less victims. "
FRED wrote on Jun 2, 2007 1:09 AM:
" thanks Sandpoint, we have this mission for homeless men (sex offenders)
then you find them all these great jobs. I understand that they say they
are trying to change, but when you give them jobs around children all
you do is put the temtation back in their life. I believe just last year
once again a child molester was given a job at the library and the city
tried to defend its reason why this person was working there. I know that
the city gets money for taking in other states problems, but the least
you could do is spend some of that money to make sure that our children
ar safe. "
former resident wrote on Jun 1, 2007 11:00 AM:
" Ugh..I am glad he is not at Elk Mountain any longer. What a shame
that went on for so long. "