By MAX FILBY
A former Carey teacher and girls basketball coach at Columbian High School in Tiffin has been sentenced to 17 months in prison for having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old Carey student.
Katie Fazekas, 32, of Tiffin, pleaded guilty Tuesday to attempted sexual battery, a fourth-degree felony, in Seneca County Common Pleas Court. She waived her right to a grand jury indictment and pleaded guilty to a bill of information.
Fazekas voluntarily surrendered her teaching license, and will be classified as a tier three sex offender for the rest of her life, according to officials from Judge Steve Shuff’s office.
As a registered sex offender, Fazekas will be required to check in every 90 days, an official said.
Seneca County Prosecutor Derek DeVine said an investigation revealed that Fazekas had been involved in a sexual relationship with the Carey student during the summer of 2013 and into the 2013-14 school year.
The investigation was conducted by the Carey and Tiffin police departments, and prosecutor’s offices in Seneca and Wyandot counties, DeVine said.
The Carey school board accepted Fazekas’ resignation as a health and physical education teacher on April 14. She also has resigned from the Tiffin Columbian coaching post.
Carey Superintendent Michael Wank released a statement Tuesday saying the district is “gratified that this matter is being resolved.”
“That a former employee inappropriately preyed upon a student is both sad and tragic,” Wank said.
Fazekas resigned from her position at Carey immediately after school officials confronted her earlier this year, according to the district. District officials became aware of Fazekas’ conduct after they were approached by another person.
Wank and other officials said the legal action will ensure that no student is in “ongoing jeopardy.” The district said it is committed to making sure that students aren’t harmed, and said officials “must be vigilant in ensuring (students’) protection.”
Prosecutor DeVine said he was satisfied with the outcome of the case.
“It was important that we ended the case like this because we also had to handle it with a certain sensitivity because of the juvenile victim,” he said.
Tiffin Columbian Superintendent Vicki Wheatley did not return calls for comment Tuesday.
Jay Feldstein, Fazekas’ attorney, said the case was “extremely difficult for everyone involved.”
“My client knows as a teacher and coach that she had to have exemplary behavior and she’s very sorry for how it all played out,” Feldstein said.
Attempted sexual battery is described as attempted sexual contact, which could be between a teacher and a student or between a teacher and a minor. The fourth-degree felony Fazekas pleaded guilty to carries a minimum prison sentence of six months and a maximum of 18 months, according to state law.
If Fazekas had not voluntarily surrendered her teacher’s license, the state could have taken disciplinary action following her guilty plea or conviction in the case, according to the Ohio Department of Education.