New details emerged Wednesday in the case of a Warsaw middle school teacher charged with a felony for his alleged sexual relationship with a student. Police say that relationship with a 14-year-old girl started at the end of last school year and continued throughout the summer.
Warsaw Schools Superintendent Dr. Craig Hintz said 26-year-old Tyler Baatz taught the girl 8th grade English at Edgewood Middle School, which is how they met. Then, according to police, the two began exchanging text messages with each other with “statements of love and sexual connotations” last spring.
According to court documents, that relationship quickly became physical when Baatz and the girl started “hugging and kissing on several occasions” in his classroom during summer school.
“It’s my assessment that we have a young teacher that has certainly made a big mistake as a teacher in our community and as a young man,” Hintz said.
That relationship apparently progressed throughout the summer. Court documents say between August 1, 2012 and August 18, 2012, Baatz took the girl – currently a Freshman at Warsaw High School – to his apartment where he fondled her breast and touched her inappropriately.
Police said the teacher admitted to them Tuesday that he became sexually aroused during those encounters.
Wednesday the Kosciusko County prosecutor’s office formally charged Baatz with sexual misconduct with a minor, a class B felony.
“This news is so unfortunate because as a [school] system we take so much pride in the safety of our students and our staff,” Hintz said.
The superintendent added that he found out about Baatz’s arrest shortly after it happened Tuesday evening. In fact, he taught as usual Monday and Tuesday of this week.
“Certainly in this day and age with technology, we issue very strong guidance to all of our employees about making appropriate use and using technology appropriately, especially in interacting with our students,” Hintz added.
The biography section of Baatz’s Twitter page Wednesday said “Educator. Coach. Former Baseball Player. Role Model? TBD.”
For now, the accused 26-year-old is on paid suspension because the superintendent said state law requires the school to do so until the legal matter is resolved.
“We know that we've had a bump in the road and when that occurs in an organization we have to take decisive action to protect all of our students, our staff and our community and to be open and transparent with our community,” Hintz told reporters.
Baatz is expected in court Thursday. He's also a middle school girls' basketball coach but the superintendent told WSBT he did not coach the 14-year-old he’s accused of having the inappropriate relationship with.
Hintz also stressed to parents that their students are safe and the school is doing the best it can to make sure incidents like this don’t happen. Both the school and police said they don’t believe Baatz has had any other relationships with students.