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SC High School Teacher Charged with Sexual Battery for Relationship with Students

January 10, 2013

Kinsley Wentzky, a 34 year-old honors English teacher at Dreher High School in Midlands, South Carolina, has been arrested for sexual battery.

She faces charges from both the Columbia Police Department and the Forest Acres Police Department for allegedly having an inappropriate relationship with a student.

Forest Acres law enforcement officials have charged Wentzky with one count of sexual battery for an alleged sexual encounter with a 17 year-old student that occurred at her Forest Acres home in December 2012. The Columbia Police Department has also charged her with one count of sexual battery, accusing her of having a sexual relationship with a different student. According to investigators, Wentzky and the student engaged in sexual intercourse at his Columbia home on several occasions in May 2011.

According to Wentzky’s Columbia arrest warrant, both she and the student admitted to the relationship to the Forest Acres Police. Forest Acres Police began investigating the case after the student’s mother contacted the school principal. The principal then informed the superintendent, who notified law enforcement. Columbia Police became involved after Forest Acres Police informed them of the results of their investigation. Both departments are continuing to investigate the alleged relationship, and very few details have been released to the public. Columbia Police believe the relationship may have lasted for several months.

After the allegations surfaced, Wentzky was placed on paid administrative leave by the Richland County School District. She will remain on leave pending the school district’s investigation. School officials have not issued any official comments, but they have notified the South Carolina Department of Education. On the school’s website, Wentzky is listed as a happily married mother of two. She has been teaching at Dreher High School for seven years.

Wentzky’s charges do not include allegations of aggravated force or coercion. The South Carolina sexual battery statute specifically addresses relationships between students and teachers. Although the age of consent in South Carolina is 16, the sexual battery statute prohibits relationships between teachers and students who are 16 or 17 years old.

Under South Carolina law, Wentzky faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Interestingly, had this occurred in Georgia she’d be facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison under Georgia’s sexual assault statute. Criminal defense attorneys in Georgia have been arguing for years that the mandatory sentencing scheme under Georgia’s statute is unconstitutional in light of the great disparity between the sentences faced by defendants here versus other states. Hopefully, our legislature will soon recognize this and adjust the range of punishment for sexual assault (and other sex offenses) so that they are more in line with the rest of the country.

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