ELYRIA — A former Columbia Schools teacher pleaded no contest Monday to persistent disorderly conduct for sending topless photos of herself to her daughter’s teenage boyfriend.
Michelle Kazmierczak, 46, originally was charged with disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, but the charge was reduced by prosecutors because of the evidence in the case, according to court paperwork.
Elyria Municipal Court Judge Lisa Locke Graves ordered Kazmierczak to pay $150 in fines during a closed door hearing. The judge suspended an additional $350 in fines and a 30-day jail sentence on condition of one year good behavior.
Defense attorney Kenneth Lieux, who had been arguing for the case against Kazmierczak to be dropped because the two-year statute of limitations on the misdemeanor may have expired, called the plea deal a compromise that avoided a potential lengthy legal battle.
“She was eager to put this behind her,” Lieux said, adding that he plans to ask for the conviction to be sealed in a year.
Elyria City Prosecutor Matt Mishak said the deal was a fair compromise that resolved the case. He also said he took into consideration that Kazmierczak resigned from the teaching profession because of the photos.
“I think justice was served,” he said.
Kazmierczak formally was charged in April and resigned from her job in May. She has signed an affidavit saying she sent the photos in 2009, although investigators were unable to obtain copies of the photos.
Lorain County sheriff’s deputies learned of the inappropriate photos after Kazmierczak contacted detectives because she was allegedly being blackmailed by the father of her daughter’s boyfriend.
According to investigators, Tyrone Price, who is facing felony extortion charges, had threatened to contact police about the photos he found on his son’s phone. Investigators have said that Kazmierczak sent the pictures, some of herself topless and some of her in a bra, to the teen after he made a comment comparing her to her daughter. The boyfriend attended a different school district from the one where Kazmierczak taught.
Lieux said he wasn’t certain that prosecutors would have been able to prove the photos his client sent were harmful to the teenage boy, whom Kazmierczak is not allowed to have contact with over the next year.
“I would argue that is not harmful to a 15-year-old juvenile boy,” Lieux said. “It’s no different than the Victoria Secret catalog that comes in the mail that shows scantily clad women in lingerie and bathing suits.”
Price allegedly demanded an Xbox and cash from Kazmierczak and at one point asked her to claim to have lost her wedding ring so she could file an insurance claim and give him the money.
While he was allegedly trying to blackmail Kazmierczak, Price was being investigated for stealing money from the Amherst Youth Football Association, which he led from 2006 until his resignation in May 2010.
Price is in a court-run diversion program after pleading guilty earlier this year to theft and misuse of credit cards. The charges will be dropped if he completes the diversion program.
Price was ordered to repay $23,556 he stole from the league, although Mike Duff, his attorney, has said his client didn’t steal money. Instead, he contends Price was a sloppy bookkeeper.
Duff said Monday that Kazmierczak is trying to shift blame away from herself by accusing Price of blackmail. He said prosecutors are upset because Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Edward Zaleski put Price in a diversion program over their objections.
“They’re trying to get Tyrone, that’s clear,” he said.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.