A Newcomerstown High School teacher has been placed on unpaid administrative leave after being charged with committing sexual battery against a 16-year-old student, according to Superintendent Jeff Staggs, of the Newcomerstown Exempted Village Schools.
Adam Lefler, 33, is also charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, according to a prepared statement from the Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Office.
"All of us work in education because we care about children," Staggs said Tuesday in a news release. "We’re sickened by these charges."
The Newcomerstown Board of Education held a special meeting to discuss the matter at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Lefler was reportedly found in a vehicle with the student in the parking lot of Uhrichsville’s Claymont Center by Sgt. Brandon McCray, of the Uhrichsville Police Department, during routine patrol.
It was further determined that sexual allegations had been made and those allegations occurred in Tuscarawas County, the sheriff’s office said.
Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Phil Valdez was contacted and responded to the scene. His investigation determined Lefler’s status as a Newcomerstown teacher, and that the 16-year-old was his student. The schools were then contacted. Lefler was arrested at 7 a.m.
Staggs said Lefler is a teacher and drama director at the high school.
"Today, we learned from the Tuscarawas Sheriff Department that he is under arrest and facing serious criminal charges stemming from an inappropriate relationship with a student," Staggs said in an announcement shared Tuesday afternoon through social media and with news media.
"These are shocking and disturbing allegations. I have placed Mr. Lefler on unpaid administrative leave, effective immediately, and directed that he remains off school grounds and have no contact with district employees or students during the pendency of the criminal matter. I have made all necessary reports to the proper authorities.
"We want our students, families, staff, and taxpayers to hear directly from us about this matter.
"First, we’re cooperating — and will continue to cooperate — with law enforcement in every way possible.
"Second, as always, we’re committed to working with any student or family that has concerns about anything surrounding our school system, including this. We have counseling resources available to those who need them.
"Finally, Mr. Lefler has had no previous discipline problems in our district nor has the district been made aware of any allegations of inappropriate conduct in the past.
"Given that this case is now in the courts, this statement is all we can publicly say about the situation at this time. Our district remains committed to our first priority — providing a safe environment for our students so they can receive world class instruction and a well-rounded education."
Lefler, of 122 E. Sixth St., Uhrichsville, is in the Tuscarawas County jail pending further investigation.
Sexual battery is a felony of the third degree. Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a misdemeanor of the first degree.