Naughty teachers and the students they love

Forbidden Love 

Naughty teachers and the students they love

All across Northeast Ohio this week and next, bells will be ringing for a fresh, bright, promising school year — new notebooks and pencils and shiny red apples.

And a new batch of prospective victims for teachers.

It will happen. While some student sets his/her sights on the blackboard to catch a first glimpse of the year's material, some teacher will set his/her gaze upon the classroom and catch a first glimpse of someone who piques their interest more than he/she should. Casual glances will turn to furtive nods, innocent conversations will turn illicit, numbers will be exchanged, inappropriate messages will be sent.

We can blame it all on the Greeks, who invented damn near everything untoward. But whatever fleshcapades occurred in the hallowed halls of Athens pale in comparison to what's happening in Cleveland-area schools. This region has been cursed with a preponderance of scandals in recent years, boasting a per-capita incidence rate that would appall even the Catholic Church.

While Mayor Frank Jackson and Governor John Kasich high-five each other over their bromance and imminent reform of Cleveland schools, the specter of teacher sex scandals looms. If that sounds like some 19 Action News hysteria, it should! Of course, 99.999% of teachers aren't going to try to bang your kids, though an unspecified percentage might want to. But it happens every year — the bad apple, if you will. And more often than not, quite a few times a year. And it never ends well.

So as a back-to-school public service, we've compiled the worst of the worst, the most salacious of the salacious, as a reminder that when teacher wants Johnny or Jennifer to stay after school, it might not be for what you think.

In keeping with the academic theme, we've carefully calibrated and weighed their offenses, and ranked them according to their depravity.

From the lonely hearts club to chronic stalkers of innocent, vulnerable youth, here they are, for your edification — and warning.

THE MATH

To properly rank the miscreants who've nibbled on a banana or cherry from the wrong lunchbox in Northeast Ohio schools is no small task, and one we did not take lightly. We consulted with NASA scientists, Case Western Reserve University mathematicians, actors who play criminologists on TV, lawyers of some repute, escorts from our back pages, and the guy who serves coffee in the lobby to craft an exact equation.

The result is part hard data, part gut instinct, and 100 percent real, spliced together from expert input to put these perverts in their place. Because what good is all of this without putting them in order, right?

The formula:

{[(Age Differential x Number of Students) x Sordid Details] + Summary and Sentencing} / Mitigating Circumstances

Let's break down the components:

Number of Students: Self-explanatory. Was this a one-time incident with the could-be love of the teacher's life, or are we talking about the next Mary Kay Letourneau? Is this an otherwise upstanding citizen, or someone who treated the school halls like a personal Match.com? (1 or more)

Age Differential: The more years between the ages of the offender and the victim, the worse this all becomes. If a fresh-faced college grad finds an 18-year-old senior attractive, that's a whole different textbook than a middle-age adult coming on to a 16-year-old sophomore. If the pair could be siblings, we're talking Teacher Sex Scandal 101. If one could be the other's parent, we're in graduate-level courses. (Teacher's age – Student's age)

Sordid Details: Extra points for drugs, alcohol, sex toys, multiple partners at the same time, hot tubs, sexts, and tawdry tryst sites. (1-10)

Summary and Sentencing: Did the teacher go to jail? Did he or she plead guilty? Did the parents write letters on the teacher's behalf? From a long view, just how bad was their judgment and lack of morals? (1-10)

Mitigating Factors: Was the student at least of legal age? Was the teacher single, or only a substitute? Did God tell them to do this? Were those condoms about to expire? (1-10)

PATRICK JANSON

Composite Score: 429

Number of Students: 3

Age Differential: 14 (30ish-16)

Sordid Details: Janson's case is a reminder that while sexual dalliances can sit quietly for years, they never go away. One minute you're living the good life of a music teacher at St. Joseph's Academy, illicit memories of affairs with students many years ago tucked away, and the next your face is plastered on the news. Janson was indicted on a slew of charges in 2009 after a fellow teacher reported incidents dating back to 2000 and 2002. In those, prosecutors say, Janson not only slept with a 16-year-old, but did so during the school day, probably after an opening pickup line like, "You want to play my trombone?"

Janson later admitted to "inappropriately touching" two other girls in 2005 and 2006. (10)

Mitigating Factors: Kept quiet and cool for years, even staying at the same school. (1)

Summary and Sentencing: After pleading guilty, Janson was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison, a vacation to band camp that he is currently still enjoying. (9)

KELLY COVIC

Composite Score: 337

Number of Students: 1.5

Age Differential: 22 (36-14)

Sordid Details: Covic was a 34-year-old wife, mother of two, and middle school teacher in Brunswick. The victim in question was 14. Sordid enough? There's more. Three fellow teachers testified at Covic's 2011 trial that she admitted doing something "inappropriate" with the victim, thus breaking rule numero uno in the "How to Have Sex With Your Student and Get Away With It" guidebook. In a further bizarre twist, she offered alcohol to a second student. Both boys eventually tried to blackmail their middle-aged mistress via text. The victim asked for $200, which seems low given his ammunition; the second boy asked for $4,000, which seems a bit steep given his. Either way, she was blabbing about the affair herself, so the gambit was doomed to failure. (10)

Mitigating Factors: Outstanding stupidity. (1)

Summary and Sentencing: Covic is currently serving a three-year prison sentence, during which she will have plenty of time to chat. (7)

CHRISTOPHER THOMAS

Composite Score: 266

Number of Students: 2

Age Differential: 16 (30-14)

Sordid Details: Thomas sent wang shots to two 14-year-old girls, instructing them to return the favor. Then he got frisky with one of them, not only at his house, but at her house, too. (8)

Mitigating Factors: He looked like a creep anyway. (1)

Summary and Sentencing: The former Wiley Middle School (University Heights) teacher was charged with one count of sexual battery, 22 counts of kiddie porn, seven counts of importuning, six counts of endangering children, and one count of possessing criminal tools. That qualified him for a teacher award recognized not with 153 gold stars, but 153 years in prison. (10)

JASON MAZAN

Composite score: 111

Number of Students: 1

Age Differential: 13 (27-14)

Sordid Details: Mazan, an assistant drama coach at Green Middle School at the time, was found with a "partially clothed" 14-year-old girl in his car by a Summit County Sheriff's Office deputy. She was not identified as a student of his, but this sounds like a prototypical beginning to an episode of To Catch a Predator. Sir, Chris Hansen would like a word with you. (8)

Mitigating Factors: None. (1)

Summary and Sentencing: Mazan was indicted in April on charges of attempted sexual battery and attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. The case is still pending. (7)

KRISTEN ROSS

Composite Score: 103

Number of Students: 1

Age Differential: 25 (39-14)

Sordid Details: Ross denied having sexual relations with a 14-year old student on her classroom desk. Prosecutors insisted differently, especially because she had exchanged over 4,000 text messages with the kid, including one picture message of her breasts — sent because the boy's friends didn't believe his boasts of sexually conquering the teacher, and he wanted proof.

These being middle-school boys, they figured they could turn the proof into a payday. In a stroke of adolescent brilliance and limited greed, they concocted a blackmail letter asking for a grand sum of $40. As young boys are prone to do, they gave up their exorbitant demands once confronted by Ross, who thought even $40 was too much to pay. Unfortunately, a hard copy of the letter floated around and eventually made its way into the hands of a parent, thus ending a budding 90210 episode at Riverside Elementary in Cleveland. (8)

Mitigating Factors: Early release (see below), and continued insistence that no hanky-panky took place. Unfortunately, no one believes her. (2)

Summary and Sentencing: Ross served one year of a two-year prison sentence before being released early. (6)

KIMBERLY SAUTO

Composite Score: 50

Number of Students: 1

Age Differential: 19 (34-15)

Sordid Details: The rumba, the tango, the Macarena — all dances that invoke sweaty bodies and sexual intimacy, with beats that move straight from the speakers to your brain to your loins. But tap dancing? Yes, the 34-year-old dance teacher managed to parlay the ole tap routine into a long-term relationship with a 15-year-old boy who inexplicably was not only in tap dance class, but straight. She plied him with booze, and as a trusted friend of the family, was allowed to take him on trips. The relationship was finally discovered when her husband — yes, she was married, with two kids — found a box of condoms in her gym bag. And a lot of text messages between the two. Then the police got involved. (10)

Mitigating Factors: She was in love with the boy. Really. (4)

Summary and Sentencing: Sauto's lawyers angled for probation, while the prosecutors demanded jail time. Her case was probably not helped when she admitted during the trial that she "continued to have sexual fantasies about the victim" and had in fact masturbated to those fantasies long after she had been caught. She was sentenced to a year in prison. (10)

KRISTIN OSTMANN

Composite Score: 27

Number of Students: 1

Age Differential: 7 (25-18)

Sordid Details: The former Olmsted Falls High School science teacher struck up a romance with an 18-year-old and took him on a whirlwind romp to the Red Roof Inn in Middleburg Heights. Quite an expenditure on a teacher's salary, considering that they went on four different occasions over a two-week span. No word on whether she sprung for Pay Per View. (7)

Mitigating Factors: The victim was of legal age, and at least she eschewed the motels on Pearl Rd. in Strongsville, showing just a bit of class. (2)

Summary and Sentencing: After pleading guilty to one count of aggravated assault last year, Ostmann surrendered her teaching license and was sentenced to six months in prison. She may or may not currently work in housekeeping for the Red Roof Inn. (5)

MARY

SCHNELL

Composite Score: 22.25

Number of Students: 1

Age Differential: 9 (25-16)

Sordid Details: The Aurora teacher had sex with her teenage paramour at least twice, according to published reports. That did not include an au naturel encounter in the woods, though that was in the planning stages. But Schnell decided against it when her "motherly instinct and teaching instinct kicked in." Of course, those instincts had no qualms about getting a hotel room, and having sex in a car in a parking lot behind a bar. Portage County Common Pleas Judge Laurie Pittman wasn't buying it, either, telling Schnell, "You have no motherly instinct. You have no teaching instinct." (9)

Mitigating Factors: Schnell's lawyer claimed she suffered sexual assault as an adolescent. The mother of the victim even wrote a letter asking that Schnell not be sent to prison. (4)

Summary and Sentencing: Noting that she took the boy out drinking and "acted like he was your boyfriend," Judge Pittman sentenced Schnell to two years in prison, where she will have plenty of time to further develop her motherly instincts. (8)

CONSTANCE YACOBOZZI

Composite Score: 9.33

Number of Students: 1

Age Differential: 12 (29-17)

Sordid Details: The missionary position of sex scandals: She plied the boy with coffee dates and took him back to her house. (2)

Mitigating Factors: "Words cannot express how remorseful I am about everything," she told the judge during sentencing. Her lawyer characterized her behavior as an "aberration," and promised that she would never appear in a courtroom again. So she basically pinky swore to behave, which is good enough for us. (3)

Summary and Sentencing: It was just last week that Yacobozzi, a former high school science teacher in North Ridgeville, sat in Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski's courtroom to receive her punishment for teaching a 17-year old about two Bs — or three or four or five, depending on your knowledge of the Urban Dictionary and imagination. Yacobozzi's illegal tryst was allegedly uncovered when she sent a picture of herself in a bikini to a second student, showing ace judgment.

Noting that female teachers seem to get off easier than male teachers in these ugly affairs, the victim's mother said, "I ask the court to consider a punishment more than just community service and probation. Please don't send a message that this is OK." And she added what no parent should ever have to say out loud: "I sent my son to school to learn, not to have sexual relations with a teacher."

Nevertheless, Yacobozzi got off with three years of probation, sending a clear message to other teachers: It's totally OK. (4)

THE GOLD STANDARD

Damn! Once again, shown up by the hicks from downstate. Still, there's no arguing with this as the apotheosis of teacher sex scandals in Ohio, the standard by which all others must be judged.

SARAH JONES

Number of Students: 1

Age Differential: 9 (27-16)

Sordid Details: What healthy high school lad hasn't lusted after a cheerleader? Sarah Jones, a member of the Cincinnati Bengals' 2011 cheerleading squad and an English Teacher at Dixie Heights High School, allegedly made one of her students' wet dreams come true with a two-month affair last fall. Details are scant, though the young man was reportedly a football player. Jones was coming off a broken marriage torn apart by earlier rumors of sexual escapades — specifically, that she had contracted an STD from a Bengals player — that were posted on TheDirty.com. As if all that weren't enough, her mother, Cheryl Jones, has also been charged with tampering with evidence, allegedly for asking someone to "destroy" her daughter's mobile phone.

Mitigating Factors: She denies the affair. The student denies the affair. According to Jones' lawyer, the student's parents "don't have anything bad to say about Sarah." And the whole ugly business actually happened in Kentucky.

Summary and Sentencing: Jones pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree sexual abuse; her trial is scheduled for October. Currently on release with electronic monitoring, she is said to look fetching in an ankle bracelet.

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