ELYRIA — The attorney for the former Columbia Schools teacher accused of sending topless photos of herself to a teenager has asked that the disseminating matter harmful to juveniles charge against his client be dropped because the statute of limitations for charging her with a crime has passed.
Kenneth Lieux, Michelle Kazmierczak’s attorney, said the statute of limitations for misdemeanors is two years and the crime his client is accused of committing took place in early- to mid-2009. Kazmierczak was charged in April and resigned from her teaching job in May.
“It would have had to happen in 2010 to be within the two-year statute of limitations and, to my knowledge, there’s no evidence of that,” Lieux said.
Kazmierczak, 46, is accused of sending the topless photos to Tyrone Price’s son, who was dating her daughter, after he reportedly made comments comparing the mother to her daughter. She is accused of first sending photos of herself in a bra and later topless pictures to the boy, who attended a different school district.
In an affidavit Kazmierczak wrote that she sent the pictures in the early months of 2009.
Price is charged with extortion for allegedly trying to blackmail Kazmierczak after learning of the photographs, pressuring her to buy an Xbox for him, give him cash, and sell her wedding ring or claim she lost it so she would get insurance money she could give him.
If she didn’t cooperate, Lorain County Sheriff’s Detective Mike Lopez has said, Price threatened to contact police.
At the time of the alleged blackmail scheme, Price was being investigated for stealing money from the Amherst Youth Football Association. He led that organization from 2006 until his resignation in May 2010.
Price later pleaded guilty to theft and misuse of credit cards, but those charges will be dropped if he completes a court-run diversion program he was admitted to over the objections of prosecutors. He was ordered to repay $23,556 he stole from the league, although his lawyer, Mike Duff, contends Price was a sloppy bookkeeper, not a thief.
Duff also has accused Kazmierczak of making up the allegations against Price to get herself out of trouble.
But Lieux and Lopez have both said Kazmierczak contacted deputies about the blackmail scheme, effectively implicating herself, and has cooperated with the investigation.
Duff said Thursday that Lieux is likely correct about the statute of limitations having passed in Kazmierczak’s case.
Elyria City Prosecutor Matt Mishak said he is still reviewing the law, but he noted there are exceptions to the two-year rule in misdemeanor cases, including if the defendant was deliberately trying to avoid prosecution or if it was a continuing course of conduct.
“At this point, we are not prepared to dismiss the case,” Mishak said.
A hearing on Lieux’s request to drop the charges has been set for next month in Elyria Municipal Court.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.