HIGHLAND | A former Highland High School teacher surrendered to police Tuesday after six felony counts were formally filed against him regarding an inappropriate relationship with three female students.
Samuel Fies, 33, of St. John, has been confined to the Lake County Jail.
Fies has been charged with one count of sexual misconduct with a minor, a Class B felony; one count of child molestation, a Class C felony; one count of sexual misconduct with a minor, a Class C felony; one count of criminal confinement, a Class D felony; one count of child solicitation, a Class C felony; and one count of attempted child seduction, a Class D felony. The Class B felony carries a possible prison sentence of six to 20 years; a Class C felony count carries a possible sentence of two to eight years; and a Class D count, six months to three years.
Highland attorney Steven Scheele, who represents Fies, said Fies turned himself in shortly after they became aware the charges had been filed.
"I haven't had a chance to fully review the charges, but I will be doing so. I would just impress upon you that he is presumed not guilty, and we ask the public to respect that presumption," Scheele said.
Two of the three students are classified as learning disabled and participate in special education classes in the School Town of Highland, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Fies developed a relationship with the first student in 2009 when she was in seventh grade and younger than 14, according to the affidavit. He allegedly attempted to touch her, brushed up against her and put his fingers down the front of her pants.
In early September, he allegedly confined her in his office for a period of time when he continued to touch her.
He communicated with this student through text messages and by cellphone and asked for pictures of her in her underwear, according to the affidavit.
Fies used a Gateway computer, giving himself the screen names "bbbbgmp" and "s10renew" and attempted to develop a relationship with two other students, one of whom was 13, the affidavit states.
He allegedly contacted the 13-year-old through a MySpace account, through instant messaging and texting. The girl told police that when she talked to him by phone, it sounded like her social studies teacher.
The teacher asked her to do a variety of sexually related things to herself and told her he was masturbating, according to the affidavit.
The third girl is a 17-year-old Highland High School student whom Fies reportedly met through a dating website initially.
The girl told police she told the person known only to her as "s10renew" that she was 17. Also, there were phone calls where the person known as "s10renew" asked her to masturbate while he masturbated, the affidavit stated. She told police she did not really comply. When he asked to date her, she told him he would have to meet her parents first.
On Nov. 23, the Highland School Board held a special meeting and fired Fies based on the recommendation from high school Principal Patrick Weil and School Town of Highland Superintendent Michael Boskovich.
In a letter to Fies dated Nov. 17, Weil notified Fies his contract was being canceled because of inappropriate interaction with female students, including physical contact; requests for and suggestions of contact or relationship of a sexual nature and electronic communication of a sexual nature, which individually or collectively constitutes immorality and other good or just cause; communication with female students unrelated to legitimate educational or extracurricular purposes, which constitute other good or just cause; and noncooperation with the administration and refusal to answer questions during its investigation of allegations of misconduct, which constitutes insubordination.
In addition to teaching, Fies had been a track and cross country coach at Highland Middle School and/or the high school. He also coached varsity swim for boys and girls at Griffith schools until this school year, when a new coach was hired.