Former Walt Disney Elementary teacher pleas guilty
SOUTH BEND — A former Walt Disney Elementary School teacher entered a plea bargain Tuesday, July 30, in a case in which he was accused of sending sexually explicit text messages to a former student.
Eric West, 31, of Osceola, pleaded guilty to one count of inappropriate communication with a child, a misdemeanor, according to a press release from the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s office. West, who was a fifth-grade teacher at Disney, was charged in October.
According to the probable cause affidavit for his arrest, West began exchanging text messages with a student in the summer of 2011. The student had been in his class during the 2010-11 school year. The child told investigators that West had asked her to delete his text messages from her cell phone, but she had not deleted the messages when her parents looked at her phone in the summer of 2012.
The child’s mother told police there were about 265 messages as of July 12, 2012, that she believed came from West’s phone. A detective from the St. Joseph County Police Cyber Crimes Unit also found sexually explicit messages from a phone number labeled as “Eric West” on the girl’s phone.
West’s sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 20 at 8 a.m. in front of Magistrate Brian Steinke, according to the press release.