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Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Ex-teacher pleads guilty to eight sex charges

Last-minute plea deal reduces original 47 felony counts

By Margie Wuebker
CELINA - The trial of Christopher Summers, a former accounting teacher and coach accused of 47 sex-related charges involving one of his students, came to an abrupt end Wednesday afternoon when lunchtime negotiations resulted in a plea deal.
Summers, 33, who is married and the father of two children, pleaded guilty to eight counts of sexual battery, all third-degree felonies.
The St. Henry man showed no emotion during the proceeding in Mercer County Common Pleas Court and responded matter-of-factly to questions from judge Jeffrey Ingraham regarding constitutional rights.
Ingraham told the defendant each charge carries up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He will be sentenced Sept. 17. Additionally, Summers will be classified as a Tier III sex offender subject to lifetime registration guidelines.
The judge reimposed house arrest with electronic monitoring during the interim with Summers paying the cost.
The victim, now a 19-year-old accounting major in college, spent most of Wednesday morning on the witness stand. In a barely audible voice, periodically choked up with emotion, she related in graphic detail what had transpired between her and Summers during a 28-month period from June 2010 to November 2012.
Her story revealed a trail of manipulation punctuated with sexual, physical and mental abuse and nearly 1,000 telephone calls and text messages at all hours. About 175 messages went to her from Summers and his wife between Nov. 5 and 6; the victim made initial contact with the Mercer County Sheriff's Office on Nov. 5.
She tearfully recounted a June 28, 2010, incident that occurred while she was baby-sitting at Summers' home. She testified that Summers arrived home and told her to follow him to the master bedroom where he forced intimacy. He then issued menacing threats to her warning her not to tell anyone or face the consequences.
The teen testified Summers constantly reminded her of the control he had and the willingness "to do anything to save his ass."  
Prosecutor Matt Fox asked if she told anyone about what happened.
"I was scared....if he was willing to rape me, he was willing to do anything," she said.
The brown-haired woman, who did not look at the defense table, said Summers took a knife and carved the letter "C" on the inside of her right ankle because he was upset she had started dating someone in January 2012.
He then asked whether she had cut herself because she loved him so much and ordered her to write a text message vowing not to cut herself again, she testified.
She described various sexual encounters at several different locations, including school property and hotels.
She also testified about text messages from the couple saying she needed to come to their home or he would commit suicide and leave a note listing her as the reason. Lori Summers initiated another contact to make sure she was coming.
In late October 2012, the victim said Summers drove to the college campus she attended and banged his head against the window of her room. The young woman testified he showed photos of her boyfriend's house and asked which of her family members she wanted hurt.
As part of its case, the state intended to show text messages Chris and Lori Summers sent to the victim, but a technical glitch delayed the presentation Wednesday prior to court being adjourned for lunch. The plea deal was made during the recess.
Earlier in the morning Lori Pottkotter, a former freshman basketball coach, and Fort Recovery High School Principal Jeff Hobbs were called as witnesses.
Pottkotter said there were times when Summers would call the victim to his seat on the team bus and place a blanket over their laps. She admitted not reporting the incidents.
"I felt as a coach and athlete, they were too close," Pottkotter testified.
Hobbs recounted two occasions when he spoke with Summers - regarding students addressing him on a first-name basis and inappropriate activity at a Findlay basketball camp.
Documentation of those meetings were placed in Summer's personnel file.
Hobbs said he pointedly asked Summers whether he was having an affair with the student and Summers gave an immediate denial. Having witnessed no inappropriate activity, Hobbs said he did not report the matter to other officials.
Summers faces one count of sexual battery in Darke County for an incident involving the same victim.
Fox said Darke County Common Pleas Court will be notified of Wednesday's plea deal.
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