The small town of Rose City, Michigan is now in the national spotlight. The issue involves a middle school teacher who was convicted of having sexual encounters with a 13-year-old boy. During sentencing, a handful of teachers actually wrote letters supporting the convicted felon, and now members of the community want those teachers fired.
As reported in the Ogemaw County Herald, “Former Rose City Middle School teacher Neal Erickson was sentenced to 15-30 years in prison for first-degree criminal sexual conduct July 10.”
Erickson, 38, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor during a pretrial in 34th Circuit Court in West Branch May 8.
Erickson was charged with CSC in December 2012 after the findings of a Michigan State Police investigation linked him to the crime. The investigation was started in October of last year, and the findings alleged Erickson and a student who is a minor engaged in sexual conduct from August 2006 to August 2009.
When this case came to light, the town was shocked, but now the feelings have gotten even more intense. The Detroit News reports that members of the community are now demanding the ouster of several teachers who came forward at the sentencing of Erickson to say that he was an admired teacher and great with the kids.
Residents are trying to recall board member Mike Eagan, and the board is contemplating firing the teachers.
Their offense: supporting a friend convicted of having sex with an eighth-grade student. When middle school teacher Neal Erickson was sentenced last month, Eagan sat in court with Erickson’s family. The six teachers wrote letters of support to the judge.
The case has split the close-knit community, threatened the future of the school district and forced residents to re-examine long-held beliefs.
“This case has taken on a life of its own,” said Mike Juarez, a West Branch attorney who represented Erickson.
Residents say they will pull their children from the West Branch-Rose City Area School District if the teachers aren’t fired. But the board isn’t sure the letter-writing is grounds for dismissal.
What is going on with these teachers? This man permanently scarred this boy. He violated the trust that all students hold with their teachers. In one of the letters to the judge, the teacher, who is now married to Erickson, actually wrote, “He made a huge mistake — but that should not define who he is. As for a punishment, because I know that is something the community expects, hasn’t he been punished enough?”
The letter continues, “While I acknowledge that Neal’s conduct with Cody (the child) was wrong, I do not believe he was damaged by Neal’s actions.”
Are you kidding me??? A huge mistake? This man, in a position of power, repeatedly had sexual encounters with a child! And this woman thinks the child is just fine?
Another teacher who wrote the judge in support of Neal Erickson wrote, “Neal made a serious error in judgment and is suffering the consequences. However, I feel I must speak up that I have worked closely with Neal and I have never witnessed anything but professionalism and respect to students and coworkers alike.”
The judge in the case was absolutely stunned at what these teachers wrote:
After making a decision on the sentencing, Baumgartner said he could not believe people were supporting Erickson after the issue came to light.
“I’m appalled and ashamed that the community could rally around, in this case, you,” he said.
“What you did was a jab in the eye with a sharp stick to every parent who trusts a teacher,” Baumgartner added.
What’s even worse than these teachers standing up for a convicted child molester? Some people in the town have actually lashed out at the victims family. As reported by Ogemaw County Herald, “A garage fire at John and Lori Janczewski’s house on Grandjean Road near Rose City destroyed the couple’s garage and melted the siding on their home.”
Lt. Melvin Matthews, post commander for the Michigan State Police Post in West Branch, said the fire is being ruled as arson. He said evidence gathered at the scene is being analyzed by the MSP crime lab, and new leads gathered since the incident occurred are being investigated.
The Janczewskis believe it was someone responding to their outspokenness against several West Branch-Rose City teachers and a board member, who they said publicly supported Neal Erickson, a former WB-RC teacher who recently pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct against the Janczewski’s son.
Here is an interview with the Janczewskis and Glenn Beck:
Here’s part 2
When will the insanity stop? Have we all become numb to what is good and what is bad? Anyone who supports a pedophile has no business around children. Period.