Ex-teacher backs out of plea deal in sex abuse case
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A former math teacher at Phillips Exeter Academy accused of sexually assaulting a student backed out of a planned plea deal Friday and instead opted for trial.
Szczesny Jerzy Kaminski, 61, faces multiple felony and misdemeanor charges alleging that he began abusing a female student in 2014 when she was in ninth grade. According to a school spokesperson, the school brought concerns about “boundary issues” to police 2016, and after getting more information, placed him on leave in February 2020 while police investigated. He was fired in April 2020.
Kaminski, who taught at the prestigious prep school for nearly three decades, planned to plead guilty to three felonies and one misdemeanor in exchange for a prison sentence of 12 to 30 years, according to the victim’s attorney. Instead, defense attorney Amy Spencer said he went against her advice and opted for a trial, which has been scheduled for November.
Attorney Christine Dunn, who represents the former student, said Kaminski’s decision surprised and disappointed her client and the young woman’s family.
“They thought this was done and they were finally getting some justice,” she said. “He betrayed her for years when he sexually abused her when he was her teacher at Phillips Exeter, and this this feels like another betrayal because now she and her family are going to have to go through a grueling criminal trial.”
Dunn said the family had worked hard on preparing statements to read at Friday’s sentencing hearing.
“There was some healing in doing it, and in finally feeling like they were going to get to have a voice,” she said. “To have that taken away is really hard.”
Exeter is one of several prep schools in New England that have faced sexual misconduct claims resulting in reports finding abuse going back decades, lawsuits by former students and criminal charges against faculty.
The problem came to light at Exeter in 2016, when it became public that a teacher had been forced to resign several years earlier after admitting to sexual misconduct with students as far back as the 1970s. Revelations of misconduct by other teachers followed in quick succession, and the school has committed to a series of reforms.