NAPOLEON — Brian Kressbach was the kind of teacher who was involved in everything, the kind of teacher who all the students at St. Paul Lutheran School liked being around.
Kressbach, 29, of Napoleon was sent to prison for 22 years for sexually assaulting three of his young students. The girls were between the ages of 13 and 15 when the crimes occurred, beginning in April, 2016, through January, 2017.
After hearing emotional statements from the victims’ mothers, Judge John Collier cited the deep psychological damage Kressbach caused to the three girls, as well as the trust he breached when he took advantage of students whom he should have been protecting from harm.
“There’s probably not a greater position of trust in the community than a teacher,” Judge Collier said in Henry County Common Pleas Court.
“All of us grew up, whether it was in public school or parochial school, other than maybe our parents, our heroes were our teachers,” the judge said. “Those were the people we looked to to fashion a career, to fashion our future. Those are the people we listened to.”
Henry County Prosecutor Gwen Howe-Gebers asked the court to give Kressbach 15 to 20 years in prison. The judge gave him 22, but said he would be eligible to apply for early release after serving 10 years. The judge also classified Kressbach as a sex offender who must register his address with the county sheriff every 90 days for the rest of his life.
Kressbach was the second teacher from northwest Ohio in recent weeks to be sentenced for the sexual abuse of a student.
On June 20, Kyle McKinch, 28, of Sylvania, was sentenced by Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Ruth Ann Franks to three years in prison for having sex with a student at Springfield High School where he taught math. The female victim was 15 and 16 at the time.
A Henry County grand jury had originally indicted Kressbach on 13 sex-related charges for his three victims, including sexual battery, gross sexual imposition, and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. He pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual battery and five counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, all third-degree felonies.
Kressbach had faced a maximum sentence of 27 years after pleading guilty May 9.
McKinch pleaded guilty to one count of sexual battery and three counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor for his one victim.
Kressbach, who has been held at the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio since his arrest in January, cried as he was led handcuffed into the packed courtroom and continued to cry throughout the hour-long proceeding.
The victims’ mothers told the court that Kressbach “had a taste” for young girls and was destined to victimize more children if he was not given a lengthy prison term.
“He was supposed to be an authority figure and a role model for our children,” one of the mothers said. “I wonder what was going through his mind while he was with [my daughter], what part of him thought it was OK.”
She said Kressbach had preyed on the girls.
“He loves hanging out with young kids and they seem to click with him because of his easy-going, laid-back, young personality,” she said.
Another mother said Kressbach was a child predator who had destroyed the meaning of the word “trust” for her daughter.
“This person deliberately chose his profession knowing he would have unfettered access to young girls,” she said. “Until the day he was caught, he involved himself in everything at that school — teaching, coaching multiple athletic teams, tutoring, class field trips, church Confirmation, and the list goes on and on and on.”
Defense attorney Ty Mahaffey told the court he’d never had a more remorseful client. He said Kressbach initially wanted “to encourage and help these young ladies. That spiraled down into something that I believe he regrets with the entirety of his heart.”
Kressbach, for his part, read a statement in which he apologized to the victims and their families, to his family, to the school, and to the community.
“This is not who I am, and I regret everything that I’ve done up to this point that brings us here today,” Kressbach said.
“... All I ever wanted to do was help these young ladies understand that they have a significant worth and value in this world, and each one of them has a bright future and will make a positive influence on the world.”
The Rev. Peter Marcis, pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Napoleon, said before the hearing that Kressbach was placed on leave immediately after the school learned of the allegations. He resigned Jan. 30 after he was indicted, the pastor said, and he may no longer teach in any schools in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
Pastor Marcis said Kressbach was in his fourth year of teaching at the school, which has about 250 students in preschool through eighth grade.
“Our concern has always been for the children [and] that they continue to have an excellent education here at St. Paul,” he said. “We are certainly respecting the judicial process and the judgment of the courts, and we are truly hopeful that the victims and their families can move forward with healing and some relief that justice was carried out .”
Ex-teacher gets 22 years for sex abuse of 3 girls It is the second such case in recent weeks in northwest Ohio Jennifer Feehan June 28, 2017Tweet