LAPORTE | A former teacher at South Central High School in Union Mills is accused of engaging in sexual contact with a student and committing other illicit behavior with her on the Internet.
Brian Strauss, 40, appeared Friday in LaPorte Circuit Court for an initial hearing on four felony counts. He's charged with two counts of sexual misconduct with a minor and one count each of child solicitation and vicarious sexual gratification.
If convicted on all counts, Strauss could face a potential maximum sentence of 38 years in prison.
According to court documents, an inappropriate relationship began between Strauss and the girl, then 15 years old, with online chatting in the summer of 2008. Within several weeks, the content of the exchanges became sexual in nature at the request of Strauss, documents state.
The girl told investigators she and Strauss had sexual contact with each other at the school on several occasions, according to documents.
Strauss was her instructor for a driver's education course and allegedly arranged for extra training sessions with her so they could be alone. The sexual contact occurred during those sessions, according to court documents.
Strauss resigned from his teaching position at South Central High in 2010 and later became principal at South Adams Elementary School in Berne, about 35 miles south of Ft. Wayne, documents state.
South Adams School Corp. Superintendent Scott Litwiller said Strauss was hired in the fall of 2010 and resigned Oct. 3. He said Strauss is not under investigation for any other similar allegations in his district.
The investigation began in August when the girl came forward with the allegations. When questioned, Strauss admitted to a relationship with the girl and corresponding with her on the Internet, police said. He denied having any physical contact with her, police said.
Strauss also told investigators he allowed the relationship to continue because he enjoyed receiving the attention, according to court documents.
Strauss, who now resides in Michigan City, was arrested Thursday at his home. He was allowed to remain free on the $35,000 bond he posted shortly after his arrest.
Strauss appeared for his hearing with his private legal counsel, Scott Pejic, and an omnibus hearing date in his case was set for Dec. 21.