Fairfield High School teacher Tyler Conrad has been found guilty of one sex charge involving a student.
The verdict was handed down Friday by Butler County Common Pleas Judge Keith Spaeth after a non-jury trial last month.
Conrad, of Hamilton, stood trial on charges of sexual battery, a felony; and sexual imposition and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, both misdemeanors.
He was found guilty of sexual imposition, a third-degree misdemeanor, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a first misdemeanor.
Spaeth found Conrad not guilty of sexual battery, a felony, involving a sex act that is alleged to have happened in his classroom. A second charge of sexual battery was dismissed at trial.
Conrad’s bond was revoked by Spaeth and he was handcuffed Friday and taken to the Butler County Jail.
Sentencing is scheduled for July 6 after a pre-sentence investigation is completed. Conrad faces 180 days in jail for the contributing charge and 60 days in jail for the sexual imposition charge. Conrad will also be classified as a Tier I sexual offender requiring him to register his residence for 15 years.
Before handing down the sentence, Spaeth said Conrad lied to police about his relationship with the teen.
Addressing Conrad, Spaeth told the 27-year-old that he abused his position as a teacher and coach.
“The evidence demonstrates very clearly that the defendant acted in an unprofessional, inappropriate and despicable fashion as it relates to the nature and circumstance of his relationship with a 15-, 16-year-old student. The court recognizes that the defendant abused his position as a teacher and authority figure,” Spaeth said.
The judge said the teen victim’s “high school experience has largely been turned into a train wreck by the defendant.”
Fairfield City Schools is moving forward in firing teacher Tyler Conrad, the district’s superintendent told this news outlet.
“Irrespective of the outcome of the criminal proceedings, the district believes that Mr. Conrad’s conduct constitutes grounds for termination of his teaching contract,” Fairfield Schools Superintendent Billy Smith told the Journal-News.
“He has been suspended without pay and benefits and will continue to be so suspended during the pendency of termination proceedings.” Smith said.
Conrad has requested a hearing before a state-appointed referee, according to Smith.
“That hearing would be the next step in the process. We have no additional comment at this time,” the superintendent said.
Defense attorney Christopher Pagan declined comment.
The victim’s parents also declined comment. The victim was not in the courtroom for the verdict.
“We are satisfied with the verdict,” Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Kelly Heile said. “This is validation for the young victim and what she went through. I know this wasn’t easy for her and hopefully this encourages other children in similar situations to come forward and talk about what has happened to them.”
During closing arguments last month, defense attorney Chris Pagan said the 16-year-old teen repeatedly lied to Fairfield detectives and to her parents about the alleged sexual activity when the investigation began in October.
Spaeth said while he is mindful that the circumstances might cause the teen victim to be confused, scared and emotional when she gave testimony in court and talked to police, “the inconsistencies and deception go well beyond what this court might expect from a young person in the (teen’s) circumstance.”
Thus the not guilty verdict for sexual battery.
But Spaeth found sufficient evidence concerning an incident that occurred between May 26 and May 29, 2016 when the teen said Conrad made arrangements to pick her up, then drive her to a residence in Ross Twp. where he kissed her and touched her private area on the outside of her clothes.
At trial, the teen’s best friend testified she receive a call from the girl about the incident while she was vacationing in Tennessee during the Memorial Day weekend 2016.
Conrad presented an alibi at trial with phone images that he was vacationing in Florida between May 30 and June 4, 2016. But Spaeth rejected that alibi, noting it did not cover days May 26 to May 29.
Phone records indicate approximately 67 texts and 30 phone calls exchanged between Conrad and the teen May 26 to 27. Then the calls and messages abruptly cease until June 2 when Conrad sent a text to the victim, Spaeth pointed out.
“It is reasonable to infer from the phone records that the defendant left for vacation in Florida shortly after the incident in Ross Twp.,” Spaeth said.
At trial prosecutors hammered home the number of text messages and calls with Conrad that the teen’s phone records show from May 6, 2016 to Oct. 9, 2016. A total of 2,876 text messages were exchanged between the two.
Nearly 90 phone calls were also exchanged between Conrad and the teen during the time period, many of them in the late night and early morning hours, according to prosecutors.
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