Former Portage teacher offers to plead in sexting case
BY JAMES D. WOLF JR. Post-Tribune correspondent September 4, 2013 5:40PM
Updated: November 13, 2013 2:39PM
VALPARAISO — A former middle school teacher pleaded guilty Wednesday to “sexting” and sending a photo of his genitals to three former students who were about 14 to 15 years old at the time.
However, the state dropped the most serious charge against Brian Lee Tyman, 45, a Class B felony of sexual misconduct with a minor, that could have gotten him up to 20 years in prison.
Instead, under a proposed plea deal, Tyman would receive a year on home detention, plus five years probation after that, for his plea to two Class D felony child solicitation charges. That’s if Porter Superior Judge Mary Harper accepts the plea at a Nov. 13 hearing.
The parents of two of those girls were at the Porter County Courthouse on Wednesday and told reporters afterward that they hope the judge rejects that deal.
Tyman, who appeared in court clean-shaven, will also lose his teaching license, agree never to apply for another teaching job and be on a sex offender’s registry for 10 years. He had been a teacher at Fegley Middle School in Portage until the charges were filed early this year, at which point his employment was terminated.
Porter County Deputy Prosecutor Cheryl Polarek said during the plea hearing that the state is dropping the B felony because the child’s mother declined to go through with the case.
Defense attorney Bryan Truitt said his client would not have pleaded in that case, which was the first charge brought against him on Jan. 20.
Truitt said Tyman pleaded to the lesser felonies because “the evidence was there to support the charges.”
In the first case, a girl said they became Facebook friends, then friends on a private Facebook account and had sex during August 2012, twice in the two weeks before her 16th birthday.
In Indiana, 16 is the age of legal consent, and the high school principal contacted police about the situation.
The Porter County Prosecutor filed the second set of charges, including a Class D felony charge of vicarious sexual gratification, Jan. 28.
Three girls showed police sexually suggestive texts and the photo of his genitals he sent to them during a Dec. 29 sleepover.
After Wednesday’s hearing, the father of one of the girls said the plea “gives us a little bit of hope now.”
Neither he nor the mother of the other girl are being identified by the Post-Tribune in order to protect the identity of the victims in the case.
Both he and the mother of another one of the girls said they hope Harper rejects the plea, though, and the father said the judge looked upset with the agreement.
“The judge seems to be for our children,” said the father.
“I want to see him do some jail time,” added the mother of the other girl.
Both said their girls are in counseling, and Peeler’s daughter often cries and doesn’t want to go to school.
Truitt told the media that Tyman also has collateral punishment from this.
“These acts have caused him to lose his livelihood, be publicly shamed. For 10 years, he’s limited where he can live,” Truitt said.
Truitt also acknowledged Tyman was responsible for the acts.