A Suburban Bethlehem Lutheran School teacher was charged with two felony counts Monday for sending sexually suggestive text messages to a 14-year-old girl.
William W. Hofman, 33, was charged in Allen Superior Court with sexual misconduct with a minor and child solicitation for the alleged “sexting” between the two that occurred sometime between June and October.
The investigation began after the girl, now a freshman at Concordia Lutheran High School, began talking about having a lover and if anyone found out, she would be in trouble, according to the probable-cause affidavit. Her father then searched her phone and found hundreds of messages about “physical stimulation” and undressing the girl.
Richard Brune, principal at Suburban Bethlehem, 6318 W. California Road, said police informed the school of allegations against Hofman in October. Hofman, who taught middle-school mathematics and literature at the school for more than two years, was placed on leave and resigned last month.
According to the affidavit, the two knew each other from church and ultimate Frisbee, where Hofman was the coach. Hofman had also been the girl's teacher two years prior.
The girl told police that Hofman had taken her home one day and they “connected.” From there they began the texting relationship that she said went only to the point of holding hands once.
Hofman told police he and the girl were just friends, and that he likes to maintain relationships with former students as they get older.
“This blew into something horrible,” Hofman told police in the affidavit, adding that he was “turned on” by some of the girl's messages. “I didn't know how to get out of it. A week after we started texting, I said we can't continue. It kept growing. It was fun; it was a stress release for me.”
Brune said school officials informed parents about the allegations, but no additional concerns or allegations have surfaced against Hofman, whom Brune said was a “popular, well-liked teacher.”
Although the school performs background checks on prospective employees, Brune said its screening and hiring procedures may have to be re-evaluated.
“We'll continue to rely on God's grace, with Christian care and concern for our students and families,” Brune added.