Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Michelle VanMeter - Serial Child Molesting Teacher pleads Guilty

A former Catholic studies teacher accused of molesting multiple children in two separate cases pleaded guilty Tuesday morning in Allen Superior Court.

As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, Michelle VanMeter, 35, faces 30 years in prison when she is sentenced Feb. 8. If a judge accepts the plea agreement, three additional charges of child molesting and two charges of sexual misconduct with a minor will be dismissed at sentencing. She will also have to undergo counseling for sexual perpetrators.

Officials with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend confirmed VanMeter was once a teacher at St. Jude Catholic Parish, information that came to light in September after she was arrested on charges she had numerous sexual encounters with three male children of a friend from June 2006 to April 2007.

On Tuesday, she admitted to molesting a then-13-year-old boy, as well as having sexual contact with the boy’s two older siblings, one 15 and an older brother who is a deaf adult with mentally disabilities. She pleaded guilty to one count of child molesting, one count of sexual misconduct with a minor and sexual battery.

VanMeter gave birth to a baby in June. The boys’ mother, who was friends with VanMeter having worked with her at a group home for AWS, formerly known as Anthony Wayne Services, became suspicious when she saw the baby.

A paternity test revealed with 99.9 percent certainty that the 15-year-old was the father of the baby, according to court documents.

In the second case, VanMeter pleaded guilty to a single count of child molesting, stemming from the molestation of another boy.

Those allegations surfaced during the investigation of the first case, when the boys told police they believed VanMeter had sexually abused another child.

The then-12-year-old boy told investigators she molested him on seven or eight occasions when he was at her house, according to court documents.

According to court documents in both cases, the boys told investigators VanMeter would often invite them to her home, allowing them to spend the night. She would also take them shopping and buy them presents or take them roller-skating, bowling or to play miniature golf.

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