Former school guard gets probation for relationship with teen

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A former Wilkinsburg High School security guard must serve three years probation and register for the rest of his life as a sex offender after pleading guilty Tuesday to having a relationship with a 14-year-old girl.

Michael Tolbert, 27, of Garfield pleaded guilty to institutional sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor and indecent assault before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jill E. Rangos.

According to police, Tolbert and the girl exchanged more than 1,000 text messages, some of which included graphic sexual images.

The girl's mother contacted police on Nov. 21 after she found a number in her daughter's phone she didn't recognize. When interviewed by investigators, the girl said she and Tolbert kissed at school during school hours.

Defense attorney Robert Mielnicki said his client had never been in trouble before, and that he never had sex with the girl.

"The relationship started with Facebook banter back and forth," Mr. Mielnicki said. "There was never intercourse. Their clothes never came off."

Still, the defense continued: "There's no excuse for it."

Mr. Mielnicki could not explain his client's behavior but did question whether it started because he was flattered by the girl's attention.

Judge Rangos ordered three years probation, a lifetime of registering under Pennsylvania's Megan's Law and no contact with the victim. In addition, Tolbert cannot be around juveniles unless he receives permission from his probation officer, and the children's parents are aware of his conviction.

Because of the felony conviction, Tolbert will not be able to work around children, said deputy district attorney Laura Ditka.

education - neigh_city

Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620.


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