A chemistry teacher in northwest Indiana has been fired and criminally charged because he allegedly ferried a group of students to a strip club and gave them beer and hard liquor inside his home.
The sacked teacher, Travis Lechien, had taught for a decade at Hanover Central High School in the exurbs of Chicago, reports local NBC affiliate WMAQ. He was also a volleyball coach and a sponsor of many after-school activities.
Lechien, 32, had been suspended without pay since Sept. 10 before he was fired. Previously, the school board had refused to accept his attempt to resign.
“We take this seriously,” school district superintendent Tom Taylor told The Times of Northwest Indiana.
Taylor noted that he has received no complaints from parents concerning the former teacher. He also said the students will face no penalties.
“I think the issue here is with the adult involved,” he told The Times.
Lechien also faces a trio of counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Under Indiana law, the three misdemeanors carry a total maximum prison term of one year.
Locals interviewed by WMAQ sided strongly and squarely with the school district and the police.
“It’s morally reprehensible. I mean, it simply shouldn’t happen,” said one man.
“He was trusted with our children and he just should never have done it,” agreed a woman.
According to court documents, things went south for Lechien one particular night when police pulled his car over for speeding. Inside the car were some students he had taken to a strip club in Hammond, Ind. He was driving them home.
The occasion for the strip club visit was a student’s birthday.
An affidavit also alleges that a group of students frequently “hung out” at Lechien’s house, reports WMAQ. They drank hard liquor and beer. They smoked tobacco from Lechien’s hookah. They played video games.
Some of the students who spent time at the chemistry teacher’s house are 18. Others are younger.
Richard Wolter, an attorney representing Lechien, indicated that his client intends to plead not guilty to the charges.
The first court date is Nov. 19.