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Former Ledyard High School English teacher William C. Friskey engaged in an illegal relationship with a student that began in his classroom during the 2012-13 school year and continued at school and his East Lyme home until the 18-year-old woman broke it off this spring, according to Ledyard police.
Friskey, 36, who had worked for the school district since 2007, resigned his position July 2, two days after Ledyard police charged him with two counts of second-degree sexual assault. He is free on a $75,000 bond while his case is pending.
At his arraignment Monday in New London Superior Court, Judge Kevin P. McMahon transferred the case to the court where major crimes are heard and reminded Friskey there is a protective order forbidding him from having contact with the alleged victim.
Friskey, who is represented by attorney Peter Catania, is due back in court Aug. 18.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit prepared by Detective Christopher Cadro, Superintendent Cathy Patterson called police on June 10 to report that a possible inappropriate relationship between a teacher at Ledyard High School and a female student had been brought to the attention of administrators.
Though the alleged victim is old enough to consent to a sexual relationship, it is illegal for school employees to have a sexual relationship with students. In an interview with Cadro and Lt. Michael Finkelstein, the alleged victim said she and Friskey became friendly when she took his English class and began emailing each other after school hours. She said their conversations became more personal and in September 2013 she began visiting his classroom, where they would be alone with the door closed, during lunch and after school. She said she began visiting him at home in East Lyme during the second semester. She said she went to his house about 10 times, telling her mother she was going to a friend’s house, and that they went bowling together and to breakfast and dinner.
The teen told the investigator she tried to end the relationship several times because she knew it was wrong but that Friskey would “always try to pull her back in by threatening to harm himself or telling her he couldn’t live without her.” She said she finally ended the relationship this spring and that Friskey gave her a letter apologizing for allowing the relationship to become sexual and saying he regretted sacrificing their friendship.
Administrators provided the police with letters and emails and Skype chat logs recovered from a laptop that had been assigned to Friskey. The correspondence contains intimate details of the relationship. In one letter, Friskey wrote that he could not “stand the thought” of the teen seeing him as her “abuser or even rapist.”
The Ledyard Board of Education placed Friskey on administrative leave and began disciplinary proceedings after the alleged affair came to light and released a statement saying the school district was cooperating with the criminal proceeding.
“The Board shares the concern that parents and the public at large will have in receiving this news,” the statement said. “As a school district, the Board continues to uphold high standards for our staff and anyone working with children. Staff members are in a position of significant trust and they must at all times be held responsible and accountable for adhering to established policies and the law.”
Contacted Monday about the case, the school district released an updated statement that indicates Friskey resigned from the school district effective July 2 and that the board will make no further comment.