Former St. Helens teacher sentenced in sex abuse case
UPDATED 8/22/19 — A former St. Helens teacher who pleaded guilty to charges of sex abuse after engaging in an ongoing relationship with a teenage student was sentenced to serve more than four years in prison this week.
Kyle Jarred Wroblewski, 45, a former teacher and coach at St. Helens High School, was sentenced to 50 months in state prison stemming from five counts of second-degree sexual abuse, which he pleaded guilty to earlier this year.
Columbia County Circuit Judge Ted Grove sentenced Wroblewski on Monday, Aug. 19, in Columbia County Circuit Court.
Wroblewski was arrested in May 2018 after law enforcement received a tip that he was involved in a sexual relationship with an underage teenage girl who was later identified as a 17-year-old student. He initially faced 32 counts of second-degree sexual abuse, two counts of official misconduct and one count of contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor, but on July 10 he entered a guilty plea agreement that sidestepped a trial and reduced the number of charges leveled against him.
Prosecutors in the case, including District Attorney Jeff Auxier, filed a memorandum last week outlining disciplinary records Wroblewski had in his school district personnel file. Those personnel records detailed two instances in 2008 and 2009 where Wroblewski was issued a disciplinary letter after he had engaged in inappropriate behavior with students. Some of the actions included telling girls their perfume smelled "delicious" and at times discussing sexual topics with students, court records show. After at least one instance, school officials disciplined Wroblewski by placing him on one day of administrative leave.
During the hearing Wednesday, Auxier also argued that Wroblewski had given special treatment to another student who knew about the inappropriate relationship as a means to cover it up, and asserted that Wroblewski used his position as a coach and teacher over the victim to sustain the relationship, which lasted several months. The victim had been dealing with mental health issues, and what began as a friendship between the student and teacher ultimately developed into the illegal relationship, both the prosecutor and defense argued.
"Our community should be able to trust our teachers. Right now it's very reasonable as a parent to think twice before ever letting your child have a meaningful relationship with a teacher," Auxier said in court. "That's a tragedy to the entire community that we can't let our girls in the school district have an enriching relationship with their teacher."
David McDonald, Wroblewski's legal counsel, argued that Wroblewski's behavior had not been predatory, but started as a friendship with the student and ultimately became inappropriate, which the defendant acknowledged, he explained. Wroblewski has also taken advantage of multiple counseling programs while in custody at the Columbia County Jail.
"I've seen Mr. Wroblewski change immensely over the last year. In his time in custody he's gone from being a popular coach, a great teacher, to he spends his time in the evenings talking to deputies and cleaning the floor area in the Columbia County Jail," McDonald said. "It's a humbling experience for him."
During the sentencing hearing, Wroblewski read from a prepared statement in which he admitted and accepted responsibility for the charges against him and acknowledged the impact it caused on the teenager, his own family and the community, including students and staff at the high school. Wroblewski noted that he was aware there were "many victims as a result of my selfish actions."
"This was my fault and I simply was not strong enough to prevent it," Wroblewski added.
The victim in the case also read a prepared statement addressing the court and Wroblewski, but requested her statements not be quoted directly.
Grove ruled that 24 months, which was requested by the defense, was too light, but also steered away from imposing the maximum 90-month sentence, which the prosecution had requested. Grove acknowledged that the victim appeared to be "well on her road" to recovery after speaking bravely before the court, but added that Wroblewski had done a great amount of damage by taking advantage of his role as a coach and teacher.
"You exploited that relationship in one of the most base ways that's possible and have harmed her incredibly, but I do know that you have acknowledged that here today," Grove said.
In addition to serving prison time, Wroblewski will be subject to post-prison supervision, will need to register as a sex offender, and will be required to pay restitution to the victim after counseling costs have been finalized.
He is also eligible for credit for time served since his arrest last year.
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