By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Leader & Times
Sublette Junior High School teacher and Sublette High School basketball coach Matthew Ziegler has pleaded not guilty to four charges pertaining to unlawful sexual relations by a teacher.
On March 22, Superintendent Rex Bruce confirmed Ziegler was suspended with pay. On April 11, Bruce said the USD No. 374 Board of Education approved Ziegler’s resignation, effective March 25.
The alleged crime, according to Haskell County District Court documents, occurred twice on Dec. 22, 2010, once on Dec. 27, 2010 and again on Feb. 20 of this year.
Unlawful sexual relations by a teacher is a charge considered to be a severity Level 10 felony by the state.
Rumors surrounding the case have suggested the alleged victim is of consensual age. However, neither the Haskell County Sheriff’s Department, the prosecuting attorney, Defense Attorney nor USD 374 will confirm the alleged victim’s age.
Kansas Statute 21-3520 lists 10 inferences where such charges can be incurred.
According to the statute, “… the offender is a teacher or a person in a position of authority and the person with whom the offender is engaging in consensual sexual intercourse,” and the alleged victim “ … is a student enrolled at the school where the offender is employed.”
Ziegler is being defended by Liberal attorney Peter Gregory Olson, the case is being prosecuted by Paul Kitzke of Hugoton.
Ziegler has not been arrested.