Sentencing delayed for teacher who sent sexual texts to students
BY JAMES D. WOLF JR. Post-Tribune correspondent November 13, 2013 4:08PM
Updated: December 15, 2013 11:47AM
VALPARAISO — A Portage middle school teacher who sent sexually themed text messages to three students had expected to learn his punishment Wednesday.
Instead, the sentencing of Bryan L. Tyman was delayed by Porter County Superior Court Judge Mary Harper, who based that decision on the ramifications of Tyman’s actions on those involved.
Tyman, 45, will now be sentenced at 3 p.m. Nov. 27.
Harper noted the statements by parents of the students involved, who said their children are ostracized over their role in what happened to a teacher who had been popular with both students and parents at Fegley Middle School.
In a Sept. 4 plea agreement, Tyman admitted he was guilty of two counts of Class D felony child solicitation; prosecutors dropped a charge of Class D felony vicarious sexual gratification.
“At this point, the court is not prepared to accept the agreement,” Harper said. “I will not outright reject it.”
She said the lines of improper conduct were not “muddied” but “they were crossed by criminal conduct.”
Defense attorney Bryan Truitt and Deputy Porter County Prosecutor Cheryl Polarek agreed to meet before the next sentencing date to work on the plea agreement. Both declined to talk after the hearing because the case was still open.
The two counts Tyman pleaded guilty to were from December 2011 and December 2012, and his plea called for a year of home detention .
According to the first count, Tyman befriended a female student who later said she was looking for a father figure, and they played online games via Xbox.
However, he became “creepy,” according to the student, and when she asked what he wanted for Christmas, he texted back, “I think you know what I want.”
The second incident happened in December 2012, when the girl was with two friends, and one sent him explicit text chats.
After trying to end the communications, Tyman ended up joining the sexual chat and sending an explicit photo of himself in exchange for an Internet photo they said was one of them.
Tyman had faced another, more serious charge of Class B felony sexual misconduct with a minor that was filed Jan. 30, two days after the prosecutor’s office filed the other charges.
Polarek said the state dismissed that charge because the girl said she was 16, Indiana’s age of legal consent, when the sexual incident occurred. Also, the girl did not want to pursue charges.
In his statement to the court, Tyman said he became a teacher because “I truly wanted to help kids that came from tough backgrounds like I did. Somehow I lost my way.”
During evidentiary testimony, attorney Kenneth Fugate, Tyman’s childhood friend, had told the court about how his mother abandoned him in eighth grade, leaving his older brother to care for him and a sister.
The parents of the girls involved approved of Harper’s delaying sentencing, despite Tyman’s background coming to light.
“I just believe she did the right thing. It’s just a tragic situation all around. I didn’t realize that about Mr. Tyman. That just makes it worse,” said the father of one of the students. The mother of another student said she is petitioning state legislators to have mandatory prison sentences for any sexual predators.
The names of both parents are being withheld by the Post-Tribune to avoid identifying the students involved.