INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana School for the Deaf fired an elementary school teacher after Ohio prosecutors charged him with two felonies on allegations he had sex with a young girl in 2005.
Jerry R Claus, 42, was charged on Feb. 11 with two counts of sexual misconduct with a minor, Erie County, Ohio, court records show. Sandusky is the biggest city in Erie County, which is home to several amusement parks.
Claus taught at the School for the Deaf from August 2013 until Feb. 27, when he was fired for failing to notify school officials of his arrest, the Indiana State Department of Personnel told WRTV in an email.
Claus’s attorney, Troy Wisehart, said his client denies committing any criminal acts.
“He maintains his innocence and looks forward to clearing his name,” Wisehart said. “These allegations happened 15 years ago.”
In the Ohio courts, Wisehart said sexual misconduct is a mid-level felony that carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison if convicted.
According to his indictment, Claus was 26 years old in 2005 when he had sex with a 13-year-old girl in Ohio. In Ohio, Wisehart said a 13- to 16-year-old cannot legally consent to sex with anyone more than four years older.
Additional details of the allegations were not released to WRTV on Friday.
Claus is scheduled to be arraigned in the Ohio court on March 30.
Erie County Sheriff’s Office records show Claus was extradited from Indiana and booked into jail on Feb. 25. He was released after posting $20,000 bond.
Indiana School for the Deaf Superintendent David Geeslin declined to be interviewed by WRTV. Geeslin and the school also declined to issue a public statement or provide a written comment concerning Claus.
In an email obtained by WRTV, Geeslin told school staff on Feb. 25 that police had notified the school that Claus had been arrested.
“The allegation took place off school property in Ohio,” Geeslin said in the email. “When we recently learned of this allegation, we immediately removed the teacher from contact with students and have been working closely with the Ohio police to support their investigation.”
Geeslin also told staff that the school encourages parents “to discuss with their children appropriate adult behavior and to ask children to notify you and the school administration immediately should they see any signs of inappropriate behavior between a staff member and a student.”
On Feb. 26, Geeslin told staff in another email that officials had learned that Claus had tried to contact some school employees.
“We encourage you not to contact, respond, or otherwise communicate with him,” Geeslin said in the email. “We are monitoring and respecting the legal process and ask your support in doing the same.”
WRTV on Friday asked the school to provide copies of these emails and any other communications with staff or parents concerning Claus’s arrest. The school has not yet responded to that request.
Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @vicryc.