Midkota superintendent accused of possessing child pornography
December 4, 2023
UPDATED November 30, 2023
On Wednesday, Nov. 29, the Superintendent of the Midkota Public School District was charged with several felonies for the possession of child pornography.
Ryan Baron, also the school district's high school principal, was arrested on Tuesday, Nov. 28 and officially charged the next morning with five counts of "possession of certain materials prohibited," each a Class C felony.
According to a press release from the Griggs County Sheriff's Office, Baron was arrested without incident after several search warrants were executed on Tuesday by the N.D. Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Foster County Sheriff's Office, the Griggs County Sheriff's Office and the Department of Homeland Security.
The search warrants were executed after a "cyber tip" was received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which stated that an individual from Griggs County had uploaded prohibited images.
Court documents allege that Baron, age 40, had possession of five videos depicting explicit sexual acts between adults and children as young as seven years old, and he was charged with one felony per video.
Regarding one of those charges, court documents state, "the defendant, Ryan Baron, did knowingly possess, on computer equipment in his residence and through an account in his name, a video that included sexual conduct by minors."
The court documents go into grim detail as they describe what's depicted in the videos, several of which reportedly show young girls bound by their ankles and/or wrists.
Baron has been the superintendent at Midkota Schools since July 1, 2022. A press release from the Midkota School District states that Baron has been placed on leave at this time and will not be present on school property.
"We do not believe this issue to directly involve the school buildings," the press release adds. "Midkota will continue to educate and support our students through this time. We wish to thank the state and local law enforcement agencies for their diligent efforts in this matter."
During a bond hearing on Wednesday, Baron's bond was set at $5,000 cash or surety. He posted bond on Thursday, Nov. 30.
The Griggs County Sheriff’s Office issued a press release after he posted bail. The text of the release is below, in its entirety.
November 30, 2023
Updated information from yesterday's press release:
The Defendant Ryan Baron has bonded out of Barnes County Correctional Center and is currently not wanted by any law enforcement agency related to this incident. Defendant is under very strict bond conditions, which includes the Defendant is not allowed on any Midkota School Property or grounds. After continued investigation the Agencies involved feel, to the best of our knowledge and based on the evidence, we have collected at this point, there appears to be no activity of recording, photographing, or capturing of images of any local individuals.
I want to assure the public, in particular the Students and Parents of the Midkota School District, this matter is being investigated at the highest levels and of the upmost importance.
Further, we ask the public to allow the investigating agencies and entities involved to perform a complete and comprehensive investigation. Please refrain from receiving and sending non-verifiable information and opinions as this doesn't assist in our active investigation. Such actions do not promote public healing.
Numerous Facebook posts, texts, and Snapchat Stories have circulated around our community, creating false narrative of the events. This activity affects the community in a deep and negative manner.
As the investigation proceeds the agencies involved will release factual information and changes in the pending case as necessary.
-Sheriff Robert Hook
The conditions for his release state that he may not come into contact with Midkota Schools, and that he's not allowed to leave the state of North Dakota.
Each Class C felony filed against Baron carries a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment, a fine of $10,000, or both.
Baron will make his initial appearance in court on Tuesday, Dec. 26 at 9:30 a.m. at the Griggs County Courthouse in Cooperstown, N.D. He is considered innocent unless proven guilty.