TRAVERSE CITY — A private voice instructor who's accused of having sex with a Traverse City West Senior High School student could be considered a teacher, a contractual service provider and a volunteer with the school district, a judge ruled.
Eighty-sixth District Court Judge Thomas Phillips today said a felony case against Jayme Jay Kratky, 33, of Traverse City, will proceed to 13th Circuit Court. Kratky faces a charge of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, and Phillips sent the case to circuit court after a lengthy hearing that focused on Kratky's exact relationship with Traverse City Area Public Schools.
Phillips' ruling that Kratky had a working relationship with TCAPS is key to the criminal case. He is accused of having sex with a 16-year-old female TC West student, and although she is old enough to engage in consensual sex, state law forbids certain individuals who work in schools from having sexual contact with students under age 18.
"It's clear that he is recommended as one of the teachers the chorale program believed would be beneficial to their students," Phillips said.
Kratky's attorney Paul Jarboe argued the very specific language of the third-degree criminal sexual conduct law didn't apply to Kratky because he was a private tutor paid directly by parents or students, and never held direct employment with TCAPS. The law applies to defendants who use their employment, contractual, or volunteer relationship with a school to gain access to a student victim under the age of 18.
"I don't think he's a teacher, judge," Jarboe said.
But Phillips in his decision referred to testimony and evidence that indicated Kratky worked with what amounted to the "blessing" and trust of the chorale department.
Wendee Wolf-Schlarf, a TCAPS chorale director and music coordinator, said Kratky taught students for the past three or four years. She said his name was among a list of approved local private voice teachers the school provided to choir students who sought to boost their skills.