OAK PARK HEIGHTS, Minn. — A convicted sex offender who said he just wanted some respect tried to pass himself off as a teenage member of English nobility -- until some high school journalists uncovered his past.
Joshua Adam Gardner, 22, visited Stillwater Area High School three times in December and January, posing as Caspian James Crichton-Stuart IV, the Fifth Duke of Cleveland. He told students that he was 17 and interested in attending the school.
He also said he was 27th in line for the British throne.
"Becoming 'Caspian,' I was given respect," Gardner said in an interview from jail broadcast Monday on NBC's "Today." "And people
"I didn't mean to hurt anybody," he said.
Reporters at the Stillwater school newspaper, the Pony Express, thought "Caspian's" story would be an interesting feature.
"He was demanding that we call him 'Your Grace,' " said Chantel Leonhart, one of the paper's managing editors. "He even demanded that the principal call him 'Your Grace.' "
Research led students to websites linking the pseudonym to Gardner's real name and to a Florida state registry of sex offenders. The student reporters learned that Gardner was convicted in 2003 of criminal sexual conduct in Winona County, in southeastern Minnesota, for having sex with an underage girlfriend two years earlier, when she was 14.