MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. – A former eighth-grade teacher from Armada Township has been sentenced to prison for having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old student.
"If I could take back what I did, I would in a heartbeat," Robert Yaek said Tuesday in court.
The 26-year-old former Armada Middle School teacher said he knew he had ruined his career and ruined the life of a 14-year-old girl.
"To the community of Armada and the Armada School District, you chose me to teach your students and I failed you miserably," Yaek said. "You trusted me and I broke personal and professional morals that I will regret for the rest of my life."
Yaek had sexual encounters with the then-seventh-grade student in a closet adjacent to his classroom and a house. He also sent a number of explicit photographs of himself to the student.
Last spring, Yaek was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, distributing sexually explicit matter to children, using a computer to commit a crime and possessing child sexually abusive material. Yaek pleaded no contest to the charges. He was sentenced Tuesday by Judge Mary Chrzanowski to 10 to 50 years in prison.
Prosecutor Jean Cloud said Yaek's actions psychologically traumatized the victim, and will continue to do so.
"She lost the majority of her friends," Cloud said. "The victim suffered emotionally trying to fit back into school, because obviously this is a small community and everyone knew about the incident."
The victim's mother read a statement to the court at Yaek's sentencing, but Chrzanowski instructed the media not to record it.
Armada Police Chief Howard Smith said the crime had an impact on the entire community, which was already healing from another tragedy, the death of April Millsap.
"The year (2014) was a tough year for us," Smith said. "He was trusted by our schools, but clearly he broke that trust."
Chrzanowski told Yaek to put his teaching degree to use even behind bars.
"There are lot of people behind bars that need to be educated. Use that teaching degree," Chrzanowski said.
Yaek will be eligible for parole in 10 years and could be 76 years old by the time he's out of prison.