Former Ecker Hill teacher accused of sexual communication with student
January 27, 2016
A former music teacher at Ecker Hill Middle School is facing four felony charges for alleged inappropriate communications with a student that spanned approximately four months.
According to documents filed in 3rd District Court, Derek Spitzer, 53, is charged with: solicitation to commit sodomy upon a child and solicitation to commit aggravated sexual abuse of a child, both first-degree felonies, as well as second- and third-degree counts of enticing a minor by Internet or text.
The allegations against Spitzer first came to light earlier this month when the accuser, a student at Ecker Hill, showed a school counselor a series of sexually explicit emails Spitzer had allegedly sent him, according to a probable cause statement filed in court. The Park City School District said in a statement that it then notified the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and placed Spitzer on leave. Spitzer was fired Jan. 12 after the district conducted an internal investigation.
According to the probable cause statement, Spitzer and the student allegedly sent approximately 500 emails back and forth on school computers between October, 2015, and January. Spitzer is accused of using the emails to ask the student sexual questions as part of a fake study on male sexuality by the Kinsey Institute. Spitzer allegedly gave the student $50 for participating in the fictitious study.
As time wore on, the emails escalated in inappropriate nature, with Spitzer allegedly eventually soliciting the student for sexual activity and asking the student to accompany him on a trip to Las Vegas. The probable cause statement claims that Spitzer used his position as the student’s teacher to "groom" and establish a rapport with him.
The police took Spitzer into custody Tuesday, according to the district statement. His initial appearance in court is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 1. Utah state court records do not indicate that Spitzer had ever previously been in trouble with the law.
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This is at least the third incident in the last two school years in which an employee of the Park City School District has been charged with a crime that was sexual in nature. In 2014, Jose Maria Ardanaz Ezcurdia, a former dual-language immersion teacher at Parley’s Park Elementary, was federally indicted on allegations of child porn possession. In September, Michael Heagren, the district’s former financial manager, was also charged with child porn possession. According to court documents, the case against him is in pretrial.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Park City School District had not responded to a request for comment.
The Park Record will update this story as more information becomes available.