STURGIS, Mich. Jan 20 2017 — Police are investigating a Sturgis High School teacher for allegations of criminal sexual conduct with a student. Police said they've been investigating the 37-year-old for weeks.
"Approximately 2-3 weeks ago we were contacted by Sturgis Public Schools who had received information about some allegations of inappropriate conduct with a teacher and former students," said Deputy Chief Ryan Banaszak with the Sturgis Police Department. "At that point the investigation was turned over to us."
Police have identified the suspect as Keith Lang, a teacher and football coach at the high school. He's been with the district since 2004. Police interviewed several students involved with the investigation and learned that the allegations date as far back as 2011.
"Obviously it's not something that's common," said Dep. Chief Banaszak. "Any time you deal with teachers who are entrusted with people’s children, that trust is violated. Obviously it's a big deal in a community, especially a community our size."
St. Joseph County Prosecutor John McDonough charged Lang Monday with several crimes:
4th degree criminal sexual conduct (with a student) - 3 counts
Distributing or promoting child sexually abusive activity
Using a computer to commit a crime
Possession of child sexually abusive material
Distributing sexually explicit visual or verbal matter of children
Lang has been placed on paid administrative leave from the school. He is currently in jail on a $150,000 bond.
"More than anything I want [parents] to know that we’re doing everything we can to bring resolution to the situation," said Dep. Chief Banaszak. "Anyone that has information regarding this case is urged to contact Sturgis police department so we can bring the case to rest."
The superintendent of Sturgis Public Schools, Dr. Thomas Langdon, sent this letter home to parents of students:
As a parent/guardian of a child enrolled in Sturgis Public Schools, we are sorry to inform you that the Sturgis Police Department is investigating a Sturgis Public Schools teacher.
Due to state and federal privacy laws and other protections, the District cannot provide further details regarding the allegations at this time. Please be assured that the District takes allegations of this nature very seriously, and implemented prompt measures to assure that impacted students and employees were being appropriately served and protected. We are fully cooperating with the criminal justice system as this investigation continues. We are confident this matter will be handled in accordance with Michigan law, but such allegations require a serious commitment on our part to assist law enforcement and protecting all individuals involved or impacted.
Sturgis Public Schools will continue to ensure that all students receive a high quality education in a safe and secure environment. I am confident that our school community - administrators, educators, parents and students - will work together to minimize any negative impact these allegations or any related rumors might have on our primary mission to educate the children of Sturgis Public Schools.
If you or your child has any relevant information, concerns or questions regarding this issue, please contact SPS Director of Safety and Security, Dave Northrop at 659-1513.
Dr. Thomas Langdon
Sturgis Public Schools Superintendent
And this letter was sent to staff:
I am sorry to inform you that the Sturgis Police Department is investigating a Sturgis Public Schools teacher.
SPS is communicating with the police department and is also investigating the same teacher. If students approach you with relevant information, please direct them to the building administration.
At this time, we are unable to provide any further details regarding the criminal investigation or the investigation that the district is performing.
I am just as saddened as you are about these allegations. We will provide any additional information as soon as we can. Despite this recent news, Sturgis Public Schools will continue its high level of commitment to safety and academic success.
If you have any relevant information, please present your information to your building administrator. Do not respond to this email.
Dr. Thomas M. Langdon
Sturgis Public Schools