October 31, 2014

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Former teacher gets 3 years in prison for sex with 14-year-old boy

MEDINA — Former Brunswick Schools teacher Kelly Covic sobbed as Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier announced her three-year prison sentence Monday.

She turned to her lawyers, Richard Lillie and Gretchen Holderman, who embraced her before she was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

Kelly Covic sobs as she’s sentenced to three years in prison Monday for having sex with one of her 14-year-old students in 2009. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY MARIA KACIK KULA)

Kelly Covic sobs as she’s sentenced to three years in prison Monday for having sex with one of her 14-year-old students in 2009. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY MARIA KACIK KULA)

Covic, 36, of Brunswick Hills Township, was convicted after a five-day trial in February of sexual battery for having sex with one of her 14-year-old students in 2009. She also was convicted of contributing to the unruliness of a minor for giving another student alcohol.

Covic was acquitted of having sex with the second student and also of two child endangering charges for allegedly leaving her two young children alone while she picked up and dropped off the boy.

The sexual battery conviction related to a boy who testified he had sex with Covic when he was her eighth-grade student. Now 16, the boy said he went to Covic’s home between 30 and 40 times over a period of a few months in the spring and summer of 2009. He said he had sex with her once.

Three co-workers of Covic testified she admitted to doing something “inappropriate” with the boy. One of them said Covic specifically admitted she had sex with him.

The issue came to light when Brunswick Schools administrators were told in August 2009 about a potential sexual relationship between Covic and a student. The school started an internal investigation and notified Brunswick Hills police shortly thereafter.

County Prosecutor Dean Holman said before Covic’s sentencing Monday that the victim was traumatized by the incident. He said the boy is seeing a counselor and also is missing school, partially because he was being harassed by other students.

“The defendant was able to victimize this young man by violating the position of trust she held with the school system in Brunswick, Ohio,” Holman said. “That position has put her in a state where she should take all steps to protect the child. Instead, she used that position to gratify herself.”

He said his office and the boy’s mother wanted Collier to hand down the maximum prison sentence for Covic, five years.

Covic’s defense, however, asked for probation and no prison time.

“I admit to an obvious bias here, but I have to say to you, judge, that in my experience Kelly is not a criminal in the sense of some of those … who stand before you would appear to be,” Lillie said before sentencing.

He said Covic has suffered financial ruin and has lost her job and teaching license due to the case.

Covic has maintained her innocence and insists the two former students who testified they had sex with her were lying. Before sentencing Monday, she said she regrets sending text messages to those students and loaning one of them about $200.

“My goal was to be a trusting person, that they would have respect for me. But instead of being a friend, I should have stayed professional and maintained my teacher status,” she said.

Covic’s parents, who wished not to be named, held a picture of Covic’s daughters after the sentencing.

“There’s the victims,” Covic’s father said.

“I have to hold that one as she cries for her mommy at night,” Covic’s mother said of one of the young girls. “She says, ‘Where’s my mommy.’ I say, ‘Some people have said some bad things about her and so she can’t be here now.’ ”

Lillie said he and Covic plan to pursue an appeal “with vigor.” He said it will be based on the same concerns listed in several motions, including one demanding a new trial, which Collier denied Monday.

In the motions, Lillie maintained he did not have a chance to provide an alibi because no specific dates were given for the crime. The indictment said the sex with the victim happened between May 1 and June 30 in 2009. The defendant said he could not say the specific day it happened.

Lillie maintained since there was not a specific date and time, he could not provide an adequate defense.

Prosecutors replied the indictment was sufficient and any objections to it should have been raised before the trial.

In addition to her prison sentence, Covic was labeled a Tier III sex offender. Once released from prison, she will have to register with a local sheriff every 90 days for life.

Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@medina-gazette.com.