Crime & Courts

Fired Airport High administrator pleads guilty to 2nd charge on student sex allegations

Bond hearing for fired Airport High assistant principal Dawn Diimmler

Judge Brian Buck holds a bond hearing for fired Airport High assistant principal Dawn Diimmler. Court rules forbid recording audio and video of the offender.
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Judge Brian Buck holds a bond hearing for fired Airport High assistant principal Dawn Diimmler. Court rules forbid recording audio and video of the offender.

The former Airport High School assistant principal accused of a sexual relationship with a student pleaded guilty to the remaining charge pending against her, court records show.

Dawn Proffitt Diimmler faced felony charges of sexual battery with a student in both Richland and Lexington counties. She pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of second-degree harassment on Dec. 21 in Richland County; however, court records showed at the time that the Lexington County charge was still pending.

Court records now show that Diimmler pleaded guilty to the same charge in Lexington County on Dec. 21. A judge sentenced her to 30 days in jail or a $200 fine, according to court records. She faced up to five years in prison on each of the original felony charges.

A message left for Diimmler’s attorney was not immediately returned Wednesday.

The Lexington 2 school board fired Diimmler in February after police and the school district investigated an alleged “unprofessional relationship” between her and a student in 2017, The State reported at the time. The student was 19 years old at the time of the alleged relationship.

In South Carolina, it is a crime for a K-12 teacher or school administrator to have sex with a student enrolled at the school regardless of the student’s age.

Cayce police said last year that Diimmler had sex with the student twice at the school during the three-month relationship, which prompted the Lexington County charge. She also was accused of having sex with the student at a hotel on Harbison Boulevard in Columbia, which led to the Richland County charge.

Diimmler admitted to district officials that she had an inappropriate relationship with the student and that she apologized to the student’s mother but said she was also in love with him, according to documents released from the school district through an open-records request.

After Diimmler was charged last February, the State Board of Education summarily suspended her educator certificate “until a due process hearing is held and/or this matter is otherwise resolved,” according to the order of summary suspension. It was not clear Wednesday if or how the guilty pleas would affect that suspension, or if Diimmler has had a due process hearing.

The board’s educator investigations defer to the process and outcome of the criminal justice system, and those outcomes and evidence are used to determine the level of misconduct and any penalties, according to Ryan Brown, chief communications officer for the Department of Education. That is in addition to any evidence that might be gathered during the board’s investigation.

Any action against Diimmler’s certification is determined by the State Board of Education, Brown said. He would not comment Wednesday on Diimmler’s case specifically, but said that generally in cases of criminal misconduct involving students, an educator’s certification is revoked, and that revocation is reported to the national clearinghouse.

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Teddy Kulmala covers breaking news for The State and covered crime and courts for seven years in Columbia, Rock Hill, Aiken and Lumberton, N.C. He graduated from Clemson University and grew up in Barnwell County.