A local teacher accused of soliciting a prostitution service to fulfill sexual sadomasochism fetishes says his actions weren’t illegal.
Todd Allen Pooch, 36, of the 500 block of Liberty Drive in Huron, pleaded not guilty Monday during an appearance at Norwalk Municipal Court. He entered the plea through attorney Roger Stark.
Also charged with soliciting — a third-degree misdemeanor — was John Christopher Kemper, 52, a mechanical engineer from Brunswick.
Pooch and Kemper were ensnared by a sting operation Huron County Sheriff’s deputies conducted Friday at a Norwalk motel. Deputies lured the men to the hotel after courting them through an online website specializing in bondage and sadomasochism.
Greenwich resident Douglas E. Lucas, 53, had been a contributor or operator of sorts to the website, and had also been operating a small brothel in his Ninevah Road home, officials said.
Officials raided Lucas’ home on Sept. 1 and discovered a 47-year-old woman working as a prostitute there. Lucas was charged with felony solicitation.
Deputies, however, carried the investigation further and used the website to attract Kemper and Pooch to the hotel to allegedly engage in sexual activities.
Pooch is a teacher at Lorain County Joint Vocational School, but he was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the court proceedings. He also served as the head football coach at Firelands High School in Oberlin, and taught classes there as well.
Stark said his client did nothing wrong.
“My client denies he broke the law,” Stark said. “What (deputies) are saying is unbelievable and not true.”
Stark said the allegations deputies are leveling at Pooch — and the subsequent embarrassment he’s suffering — is causing far more damage than the court ever could.
Deputies said Kemper and Pooch arrived at the hotel on the same day, but at different times. During their appointments, they allegedly paid a fee for various role-playing scenarios.
Kemper’s attorney, John Allton, filed a written plea of not guilty.
“We stand on the plea. He’s denying the charges,” Allton said.
Pooch has another hearing today, while Kemper has a pre-trial hearing scheduled for Oct. 5.