A former Avonworth Elementary School music teacher and high school marching band director accused of raping a minor pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three to eight years in prison on Monday.
Walter Street, 60, also will be required to serve seven years’ probation and register for the rest of his life as a sex offender.
During the hearing before Common Pleas Judge Jill E. Rangos, he apologized for his actions.
“My client did not want to put [the victim] through any trial or have to testify,” said defense attorney Michael Santicola.
It is the end of the investigation, according to Mike Manko, a spokesman for the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office.
Although parents in the school district raised concerns when they learned an investigation of Street was initiated in 2009 but led to no charges, Mr. Manko said no additional reports or complaints regarding Street‘s conduct have been made.
“He took responsibility for what happened [Monday], and that’s the end of it,” Mr. Santicola said. “There’s never been any complaints from anyone at the school.”
Allegations that Street raped a relative first surfaced in 2009, when the girl was 17 years old and contacted the director of a Christian-based organization.
That director contacted Ohio Township police, who began an investigation.
At first when interviewed with a relative present, the victim recanted an earlier statement detailing abuse, and no charges were filed.
But after Christmas in 2013, fellow teachers of Street’s told administrators in the district that they thought their colleague was being too “touchy-feely” with students, including holding them on his lap and hugging them. The school superintendent reviewed Street’s school-owned laptop computer and found a letter he wrote referring to an “inappropriate relationship” with the relative, which started when she was 11.
The document, according to the complaint filed against him, included passages such as, “Letting my feelings show for someone that society says is a no-no,” and, “I will try to keep my emotions and hands to myself.”
The woman told police in a recent interview that her 2009 allegations were truthful and that Street hand-delivered the letter to her last fall.
Street pleaded guilty to rape of an unconscious victim, sexual contact with a minor, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, incest of a minor, endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors and indecent assault.
The prison sentence was part of a negotiated plea agreement. In exchange, the DA’s office withdrew five counts against Street that related to activity that allegedly occurred before the victim turned 13, Mr. Manko said. The office had evidentiary issues on those counts.
A spokeswoman for Avonworth School District said there would be no comment. Street’s resignation was accepted at the school board’s March 3 meeting.
Paula Reed Ward: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter: @PaulaReedWard. First Published July 21, 2014 12:00 AM