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Arson charges dropped against former Dickinson principal

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DICKINSON, N.D. -- Felony arson charges against former the former Catholic high school principal accused of setting fire to the school were dropped Monday.

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Southwest District Judge William Herauf signed off on the state’s motion to dismiss charges against Thomas Sander, who had been in his first year a principal at Trinity High School in Dickinson. The state had alleged that Sander started the March 3 fire that caused up to $20 million in damage and displaced students for the remainder of the school year.

Stark County State’s Attorney Tom Henning filed the motion Thursday, saying in an interview that there was “insufficient evidence to go forward with reasonable expectation of convictions” after much of Sander’s confession was ruled inadmissible in court July 1.

Herauf approved the motion Monday afternoon, Sander’s defense lawyer Lloyd Suhr confirmed.

“As far as this prosecution, it’s done,” Suhr said.

The state could still bring a new criminal case against Sander if new evidence surfaces within the three-year statute of limitations.

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