Michael Edwards, 48, of the 1200 block of Wickford Place in Huron, pleaded guilty recently to three counts of felony sexual battery. He will face up to 15 years in prison when he’s sentenced in late June, Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter said.
The culinary arts instructor was arrested in November after Erie County deputies received an anonymous letter detailing his misconduct.
His sexual contact with the girl, then 16, began in fall 2012 and ended sometime before January 2013, Erie County Detective Dennis Papineau said. The pair had sex numerous times in buildings and vehicles at various locations around the county — Sandusky, Huron, Milan Township and, at times, in his family’s Wickford Place home, deputies said. Edwards even touched the teen inappropriately inside the school at least once.
The girl was at the age of consent and the acts appeared consensual in nature, but Edwards’ position of authority — a teacher at the girl’s school — ultimately landed him the charges.
During their investigation, deputies learned Edwards also allegedly sent sexually suggestive text messages to a second student at the beginning of this school year.
Papineau said no relationship came of those messages, as the girl wanted nothing to do with the advances.
Deputies initially arrested Edwards Nov. 14 on one sexual battery charge. Because his case was never taken to a grand jury, his recent plea deal came by way of a bill of information.
Baxter said he consulted with the girls’ parents before doing so.
“It was an opportunity in … resolving this short of a grand jury,” Baxter said. “We spoke with the victim and her parents, and through that process, we (concluded) that three sexual batteries was the appropriate resolution”
Each count carries a maximum sentence of five years.
"There probably could’ve been more (counts of sexual battery), perhaps, if he was indicted,” Baxter said, citing the number of times the pair had sex.
“But three is going to get him 15 years max. It’s highly unlikely he would’ve gotten more than that, so (three counts) will suffice to send him to prison” Baxter said.
Prosecutors have not recommended a particular sentence, instead deferring to the victim and her parents.
“The victim is upset with the whole scenario” Baxter said.
The girl and her parents plan to make a statement at Edwards’ upcoming sentencing hearing, Baxter said.
In an April 17 court document, Edwards crossed out his Huron address and included an apparently new one in Virden, Ill.