A Dreher High School teacher was arrested Friday for the alleged sexual assault of a student at his home.
And police are trying to determine when the inappropriate relationship began between the married mother of two and the 17-year-old student.
“Wentzky allegedly engaged in sexual intercourse with a 17-year-old male student at a Columbia home on several occasions,” police spokeswoman Ms. Jennifer Timmons said.
An arrest warrant was served on Ms. Wentzky Friday afternoon and a judge issued a $5,000 personal recognizance bond in the case, Ms. Timmons said.
The sexual battery charge specifically addresses relationships between students and teachers, but it does not mean aggravated force or coercion was involved.
Ms. Wentzky has admitted to having sex with the student in a statement to Forest Acres Police, according to the Columbia arrest warrant. The student also has given a sworn statement detailing the “intimate interaction,” the warrant said.
Ms. Wentzky also is under investigation by the Forest Acres department, said Lt. Bryant Hinson, a department spokesman, according to The State newspaper.
Interim Columbia police chief Ruben Santiago said Ms. Wentzky allegedly had sex with the student in his Sherwood Forest neighborhood home in Columbia on multiple occasions for several months.
Richland 1 learned of the alleged relationship Dec. 27, when the student’s parents called Dreher High School principal Ms. Jeanne Stiglbauer, district spokeswoman Ms. Karen York told the paper. School officials then notified police.
Ms. Wentzky, who teaches honors English and has been on the faculty for seven years, was placed on administrative leave with pay Wednesday, Ms. York said.
Ms. Wentzky, who graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s in English in 2000 from Clemson University, is married to Mr. Charlie Wentzky, the A.C. Flora High School athletic director, and they have two young children, the paper reported.
Word of the relationship began circulating Thursday among the Dreher school community and students started posting comments on social media web sites, some of them celebrating the victim’s relationship with the teacher.
But sexual abuse experts warn that the relationship is not something to be celebrated.
A sexual relationship between a teacher and a student no matter their genders is abuse, said Ms. Pamela Jacobs, executive director of the S.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, according to the paper.
Children are inexperienced and easily can be manipulated by people in authority, Jacobs said.
“As a teacher, you are in a position of authority,” Ms. Jacobs said. “There’s no way it was an equal relationship.”
Under South Carolina law sexual battery with a student means: If a person affiliated with a public or private secondary school in an official capacity engages in sexual battery with a student enrolled in the school who is 16 or 17 years of age, and aggravated coercion or aggravated force is not used to accomplish the sexual battery, the person affiliated with the public or private secondary school in an official capacity is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned for not more than five years.
Anyone who has additional information regarding the case is asked to call the Columbia Police Department at (803) 545-3500.
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