UTICA, Mich. – The former Eisenhower High School band director is charged with two different cases pertaining to inappropriate interactions with students, the Macomb County prosecutor announced Wednesday.
Christopher Traskal, of Sterling Heights, is accused of sending emails to a student he was teaching that, over the course of several months,"escalated to an inappropriate and sexual nature," according to the Prosecutor’s Office.
“The suspect’s in-school conversations and interactions with the student also became increasingly inappropriate,” reads a statement from the Prosecutor’s Office.
Traskal, 42, is charged with one count of sexual abusive activity and one count of using a computer to commit a crime. Both charges are 20-year felonies.
Sexual assault charge
In the second case, which was brought forward by a former student, Traskal is accused of first befriending a student when she was in middle school, then sexually assaulting her once she was in high school.
“He eventually also befriended the victim’s mother, manipulating their relationship so he was able to spend more time with the victim,” reads a statement from the Prosecutor’s Office. “He began engaging in inappropriate interactions with the victim while she was a high school student, taking her to his home and trying to provide her with alcohol. The interactions escalated to the point of the suspect bringing the victim to an event and sexually assaulting her in 2011."
In this case, Traskal is charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct, 4th degree.
According to Utica Community Schools, Traskal has worked for the school district for 18 years, including his most recent position as band teacher at Eisenhower High School. He resigned from his position in October.
“As parents, we place our utmost trust in the educators that spend countless hours with our children. This suspect took advantage of his position and exploited the innocence of these children. He broke the trust of not only these families, but others in the school and district. His deplorable actions cast a negative light on the profession as a whole,” said Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith. “We commend these individuals for coming forward. It is not always easy to discuss these matters, but we greatly appreciate them bringing this disgraceful behavior by the suspect to light."
Traskal is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges Thursday in Shelby Township’s 41A District Court.
Utica Community Schools released this statement in October:
“Our school district is following all district policies and procedures regarding personnel matters. The district does not publicly discuss personnel matters and works closely with law enforcement as part of any investigation. Individuals with information should contact our Human Resources department at 586-797-1130 or the police.”
The following letter from Principal Jared McEvoy was sent home to parents, stating Traskal had resigned from the district:
Dear Eisenhower Parents:
I want to make you aware that instrumental music teacher and marching band director Mr. Christopher Traskal has resigned from Utica Community Schools. Please be advised that this is a personnel matter and, as such, I am not able to discuss any details. However, please be assured that we follow all District policies and procedures regarding personnel matters. I appreciate your respect and understanding in this regard.
During this transition, our assistant band director Ms. Lawanda Parker will serve as the band director and will teach his classes. She has worked closely with Mr. Traskal and I know she will provide consistency to our program during this time. We are beginning the process to seek a permanent replacement for this position.
If you have any individual concerns, I would ask that you contact me by replying to this e-mail or calling my office at 586-797-1300. You may also contact the Utica Community Schools Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and Transportation, Mr. Michael Sturm, at 586-797-1130.