PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Parents in a local school district turned out at a school board meeting Monday night looking for answers after one of the district’s teachers was recently arrested on sex abuse charges involving a non-student.
But, instead of getting the answers they wanted, they were told to be patient and let a criminal investigation play itself out.
Police in Ohio Township are investigating after the teacher was accused of sexually assaulting a minor.
The suspect – now jailed – is 59-year-old Walter Street of Ben Avon. Street has been a music teacher at Avonworth Elementary School since 2009.
But his tenure at the Avonworth School District goes back several decades. He was first hired 25 years ago, working with both the middle and high school bands.
“Ohio Township Police has filed rape, assault and related charges against Mr. Street,” said Ohio Township Police Cpl. Chris Simcoviak.
“As far as he’s concerned he is on administrative leave and we have directed him that he’s not permitted to be on school grounds,” said Dr. Dana Hackley with the Avonworth School District.
The alleged victim, now in her 20s, told police in 2009 when she was 17 that she had been sexually abused by Street as a child.
But, she recently recanted the allegations on two separate occasions – and charges against Street were never filed.
The most recent investigation began several months ago, when several teachers reported to the administration that they witnessed Street acting inappropriately with students in the school cafeteria.
A police report quotes a letter from Street to the victim, saying “this letter might get me in trouble, because of the content and who might see it … and I will try to keep my hands and my emotions to myself.”
Parents showed up at a school board meeting Monday night, angry and wanting answers.
“My kids were on his lap,” said parent Cathy Burnheimer. “That didn’t have to happen. There’s a sexual predator holding our daughters on his lap, getting some kind of sick joy.”
Other parents also shared stories of Street’s alleged interactions with theirs and other children.
“He picked up every girl in my daughter’s kindergarten class,” said parent Rebecca Stetser. “He sat all of our 5-year-olds on his lap in his classroom.”
But district officials were reluctant to share details because of the ongoing investigation.
“The charges filed against this individual are indeed despicable,” said parent David Oberdick. “However the charges have not yet been proven.”