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Teacher charged with sex crimes resigns position

Board accepts rather than terminating contract

Staff writer

A Peabody-Burns High School teacher who resigned while awaiting trial on eight felony charges beat the school board to the punch last week by submitting his resignation two days before a meeting to determine if he should be terminated.

Social studies teacher Chris Young is charged with five counts of unlawful sexual relations and three counts of sexual exploitation of a child, related to allegations regarding two high school students. Each charge is a level five felony.

Ron Traxson, Peabody-Burns superintendent, said Thursday’s meeting was called to review Peabody Police Chief Bruce Burke’s probable cause affidavit, filed in court Feb. 23.

“The meeting was called to review the material and the information brought forth in the affidavit and determine whether it warranted termination or not,” Traxson said. “He resigned Tuesday, March 20, before the Thursday meeting.”

The probable cause affidavit was unsealed after a request from Ashley Rohleder, with the Kansas Association of School Boards. Traxson said Rohleder made the request on behalf of Peabody-Burns.

“Kansas Association of School Boards provides legal services,” Traxson said. “We had requested that because with the information we had, he remained on paid administrative leave. To determine if that was going to remain, we needed to review the affidavit.”

Burke’s probable cause affidavit states partially nude photos of Young and both students were found on cell phones seized from the three. These photos relate to the exploitation charges.

Burke’s affidavit also recounts numerous statements made to him by a citizen who initially reported improper relationships, the alleged victims and two of their parents, and reports of observations of school officials.

Burke also described details of how search warrants were executed to retrieve the cell phones.

The original complainant apparently had an established relationship with one of the students. The affidavit states that in December the student asked the complainant to lie about her whereabouts so she could spend the night with Young, but the complainant refused and reported telling the student that the relationship with Young was wrong and illegal.

Burke’s affidavit discloses he was told about incidents including Young crawling through a bedroom window at the home of one of the students on weekend nights, a student spending the night at a trailer owned by Young, and a text message sent by one of the students saying she was having sex with her teacher and another student.

According to Burke, both the alleged victims and a parent for each agreed to be interviewed at Heart 2 Heart Child Advocacy Center in Newton. One student and her father then refused to be interviewed after arriving at the center. The other student revealed no wrongdoing in her interview, Burke wrote, but later revealed details to a mental health counselor and wanted to talk with Burke.

During her interview with Burke, the student said Young spent the night with both students in late January and said they engaged in sexual intercourse. According to Burke, the student also confirmed identities of the student and Young in cell phone photos.

If convicted, Young could be sentenced from as little as 36 months’ community corrections to as much as 11 years, 4 months in jail on each count, depending on his criminal history. The judge could order the sentences to run concurrently or consecutively.

Young’s preliminary hearing is set for April 16.

Last modified March 29, 2018

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