A former Marlborough School teacher pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges involving an alleged yearlong sexual relationship he had with a former student in 2000.
Joseph Koetters, 47, was arraigned Wednesday morning, and pleaded not guilty to two counts of oral copulation of a person under 18 and two counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object.
His next court date is scheduled on March 26, when a date will be set for a preliminary hearing. He remains free on $140,000 bail.
Koetters was an English teacher at Marlborough School from 1999 until 2013. The all-girls school for grades 7-12 is located at 250 S. Rossmore Ave.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office said Koetters, a Santa Monica resident, allegedly initiated a sexual relationship for more than a year with a 16-year-old female student starting in 2000.
These alleged crimes came to light last June when former Marlborough student Mikaela Gilbert-Lurie published an essay at www.xojane.com, titled “It Happened To Me: My High School English Teacher Told Me He Loved Me (And Nobody Did Anything).”
Gilbert-Lurie wrote about her experiences as a 16-year-old in 2012, when Koetters was her teacher, which detailed inappropriate moments between the teacher and the student, including Koetters brushing his hands against her knee.
The victim at the center of Wednesday’s charges said she reported the incident to police in July after she read the online essay, according to district attorney’s office officials. If convicted, Koetters faces five years in state prison.
Attorney Dave Ring said he would be representing the victim in a civil suit that has not yet been filed. Ring said that Koetters groomed and conditioned the girl into having a sexual relationship with him, and impregnated her while she was a senior in high school.
“Mr. Koetters preyed upon his students to sexually gratify himself over the years he taught at Marlborough,” Ring said. “The school knew of his misconduct and tried to sweep it all under the rug. They did nothing to protect their students and should be equally blamed.”
Last November, Marlborough School head of school Barbara Wagner announced she would be stepping down at the end of the academic year. The announcement followed an investigation into the past alleged misconduct of Koetters.
The Marlborough Board of Trustees formed a special investigative committee when it learned about the situation, and the board changed its school guidelines based on recommendations by the committee.
The committee also found that during the years he was at Marlborough, Koetters attempted to engage other students in improper conduct. At the time, school officials required Koetters attend counseling. He left the school in 2013.
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