British Duke Charged With Contacting Minors at Minnesota School

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Students at Stillwater High School in Minnesota were excited at first to learn that a 17-year-old British duke would be attending their school for the year.  Their feelings changed after student journalists who had planned to do a feature on the "duke" learned that he was not in fact "Caspian James Crichton-Stuart IV, the Fifth Duke of Cleveland," 27th in line for the British throne, but rather a 22-year-old registered sex offender named Josh.

The backstory is a bit difficult to piece together, but Joshua Gardner was apparently still on probation after having been convicted in 2003 of charges relating to an underage girlfriend.  He seems to have visited Stillwater High three times in December and January, claiming to be Duke Caspian and saying he was interested in attending the school.  He was staying with a local family who was arranging his visits to the school.

Reporters at the school newspaper said they thought Duke Caspian’s story would be an "interesting feature."  It got more interesting when they learned from the British Embassy that there was no Duchy of Cleveland, found that Caspian could not spell the name of the castle he supposedly lived in, came across his page on under the name "Earl of Scooby," and then also when they found his picture on a Florida website listing registered sex offenders.  Gardner was arrested and is serving an 11-month sentence for violating his probation, which does not allow him any unsupervised conduct with minors.

He was back in the news this week after a 15-year-old boy in Edina, Minnesota, alleged that Gardner had also "contacted" him, using the same fake royal identity.  The boy came forward after hearing reports about Gardner showing up in Stillwater (Gardner had told him he was going back to England).  The boy told authorities that he had had some doubts about Duke Caspian, including wondering "why a duke was working at the Fuddruckers restaurant in Edina."

Link: (Twin Cities)