(INDIANAPOLIS)(AP) - Three men pleaded not guilty Wednesday to felony charges of child seduction after an investigation accusing them of engaging in sex acts with a 16-year-old male student they had contact with at a central Indiana high school.
Substitute Spanish teacher Nicholas A. Vester, band director Craig E. Rogers and former lifeguard and swim instructor Brandon D. Largent entered their pleas during an initial hearing in Putnam Circuit Court in Greencastle.
Authorities said all of the men admitted to kissing the student inside North Putnam High School in Greencastle. They're accused of having contact with the student during an overlapping period from mid-November to early January.
Vester, 24, of Lafayette, is alleged to have engaged in sex acts with the student about three or four weeks after he began working at the school. Police said Vester told them that he and the student engaged in the acts in a car in the school's parking lot and on a nearby road.
Vester told investigators he discussed the boy while on a date with Rogers in late 2011, authorities said. There's no indication Largent had any communication with Vester or Rogers during the span in which the incidents occurred, Putnam County prosecutor Tim Bookwalter said.
Vester taught at the school for 12 weeks in the fall. Rogers, 24, of Indianapolis, is on paid administrative leave from the school. Largent, 20, of Crawfordsville, has submitted his resignation.
If convicted of child seduction, each could face up to three years in prison and be fined up to $10,000.
Rogers' attorney, James Voyles, declined to comment on the case.
Vester and Largent don't yet have attorneys.
Bookwalter said with a child seduction charge, someone with supervisory authority over a 16 or 17-year-old can be accused of any form of sexual conduct with a minor. Indiana law makes no distinction between kissing or fondling and intercourse.
The age of consent in Indiana is 16, and Bookwalter said the charges could have included rape had the sex acts been nonconsensual.
North Putnam Community School officials said in a statement Wednesday that authorities have told them to keep silent about details in the case. They said they intend to notify the Indiana
Department of Education about possibly revoking the teaching licenses of the men charged.
"Our goal is to ensure the safety and security of all students," the school officials said. "We abhor the nature of these allegations, and we are particularly distressed by the pain and suffering this has caused the victim, his family and our school community."
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