Thursday, December 3, 2009

NY: Albany preschool teacher arrested in sex-abuse of boy

By Lynne Terry, The Oregonian
December 03, 2009, 12:21PM

A preschool teacher in Linn County has been arrested on suspicion of sex abuse with a 14-year-old boy.

Jenifer Stitzel, 34, faces two counts of third-degree sex abuse following a complaint from the boy's parents last Saturday, according to the Linn County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Tim Mueller said the boy's parents recovered his cell phone after grounding him. That was when they discovered the sexual messages, Mueller said.

"They were the kind of thing that you might read in Penthouse Forum," Mueller said. "They were X-rated."

Once they had the boy's cell phone, investigators quickly tracked the messages to Stitzel, Mueller said.

He said Stitzel is also suspected of kissing the boy and having sexual contact with him on and off school grounds.

The boy is an eighth-grade student at Central Valley Christian School in Tangent, a Seventh-day Adventist institution serving preschool through ninth grade.

Stitzel teaches preschool there, Mueller said.

Central Valley Principal Mike Meadows declined to make any comments about the case. In fact, he would not even confirm that she is a teacher there.

Neither Stitzel Nor her lawyer could be reached for comment.

Mueller said that Stitzel, who lives in Albany, is married. With no criminal history and because suffers from diabetes, she was booked into Linn County Jail and released on her own recognizance on the condition that she have no contact with the boy.

She is due to appear in Linn County Circuit Court on Dec. 23 on two counts of third degree sex abuse, a Class A misdemeanor.

Mueller said she faces as much as a year in jail and a fine.

"Had this happened after January 1st, it would have been a Class C felony because of the sexting part of it," Mueller said.

House Bill 2641, which passed March 31, added text and video messages to the felony of online sex abuse of a child.

-- Lynne Terry

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