SAWYER, N.D. — Sawyer’s former school superintendent and high school principal has been sentenced to serve 40 years in prison for sexually abusing three teenage boys and possessing child pornography.

Charles Soper, 52, pleaded guilty in April to several felony and misdemeanor charges, and prosecutors dropped a human trafficking count. He was sentenced Thursday, with prosecutor Kelly Dillon saying Soper “was preying on teenagers.”

Defense attorney Eric Baumann asked for a 20-year prison sentence based on Soper’s lack of a criminal record, but Judge Douglas Mattson refused.

“A good part of their world was shattered,” he said of the boys, none of whom was a student at the Sawyer school. Soper was accused of luring them over the internet.

The boys were 14 or 15 years old at the time they were abused in 2014 and 2015, according to authorities.

Soper spoke for about half an hour during his sentencing, saying the boys had represented themselves as being 18 years old, but that he took full responsibility for his actions.

“There’s no question about it — I did wrong,” he said. “I committed crimes. I hurt those young men.”

Soper resigned from the school after his arrest in May 2015.