Dreher High School teacher charged with sexual battery by Forest Acres Police

Forest Acres police arrest English teacher on charges that stem from encounters with two students

nophillips@thestate.comJanuary 7, 2013 

A Dreher High School honors English teacher has been charged with another count of sexual battery after allegedly having sex with a second student.

Kinsley Wentzky, 34, was arrested Monday on one count of sexual battery with a student without aggravated coercion or aggravated force, according to a Forest Acres Police Department warrant. Wentzky was released on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.

It is the second sexual battery with a student charge against Wentzky, and police said the two cases do not involve the same victim.

The charges are felonies, with a maximum sentence of five years in prison on each charge.

Ed “Punky” Holler, Wentzky’s defense attorney, declined Monday to comment on the charges.

In the Forest Acres case, Wentzky is accused of having sex with a 17-year-old Dreher student on or about Dec. 20 in her Forest Acres home, the warrant said. Wentzky and the victim provided sworn statements about the relationship, the warrant said.

Wentzky, who has taught at Dreher for seven years, also was arrested Friday by the Columbia Police Department on the same charge. The arrest warrant on that case said she had a sexual relationship with a student in a Columbia home on more than one occasion. The arrest warrant in that case has been amended to say the alleged relationship happened in May 2011.

Wentzky was placed on administrative leave with pay Wednesday by Richland 1 administrators, said Karen York, the district’s spokeswoman. School officials continue to investigate the allegations and are cooperating with police, she said.

School officials learned of the alleged relationship when the parents of the victim from the Forest Acres case called the Dreher principal.

The parents called the principal Dec. 27, and school officials notified the Columbia Police Department the same day, York said.

Richland 1 security officials called Columbia police about the allegations at 8 p.m. Dec. 27, and an investigator met with the principal an hour later, said interim Columbia Police Chief Ruben Santiago.

By Dec. 31, Columbia police determined the case belonged to Forest Acres because the alleged sexual encounter had happened in their jurisdiction, Santiago said.

Forest Acres police were notified, and investigators began interviewing the victim and Wentzky on New Year’s Day, said Lt. Bryant Hinson of the Forest Acres Police Department.

During the interview, investigators asked Wentzky and the victim if there were any other students who had been involved in a relationship with the teacher, Hinson said. Asking about other victims or incidents is a standard follow-up question for investigators looking into any type of crime, he said.

From that question, Forest Acres police learned about a second student and notified the Columbia Police Department, Hinson said.

Last week, Columbia police reported that Wentzky allegedly had sex on multiple occasions with that student in his Sherwood Forest home. That relationship allegedly lasted for several months, but Santiago would not say when Wentzky’s alleged relationship with that 17-year-old ended.

Wentzky has been a teacher for 10 years. She earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education English from Clemson University where she graduated magna cum laude. She also has a master’s degree in speech language pathology from USC. She graduated from Westside High School in Anderson.

Wentzky is married and has two young children, according to a biography on the Dreher High School website that was removed Friday once the first arrest became public.

South Carolina’s sexual battery with a student law specifically addresses relationships between teachers and students who are 16 or 17 years old. Sixteen is the age of consent in the state. Battery is a legal term that deals with a person’s right to have their bodies left alone by others; it does not imply physical violence was involved.

Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.

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