Former principal rejects plea offer

Karl A. Hartman, right, appears with his attorney, Shawn Worden for a preliminary hearing in March in Traverse City. New charges are set to be brought against the former Kingsley Area Schools teacher and principal next week.

TRAVERSE CITY — New sexual assault charges are expected to be filed next week against a former Kingsley Area Schools teacher and principal.

Three more people, including a current Kingsley student, have come forward to accuse Karl A. Hartman of sexual assault, according to Grand Traverse County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Kyle Attwood.

Recommendations for new charges — one count of first-degree and four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct — reached the prosecuting attorney’s office Friday morning.

Kingsley Area Schools Superintendent Keith Smith said he was not yet aware one of the latest accusers is a current student in his district.

“We have faith in the process that it will reach a fair and just conclusion for everyone involved,” Smith said. “Certainly, it’s heartbreaking to see more and more allegations come forward.”

Hartman, 54, stands accused of sexual assault against four boys between 1995 and 2014 and was set for a jury trial in the 13th Circuit Court beginning July 29.

The new accusers — the student, and two in their early 20s — came forward on their own after the case was bound over to the circuit court in March, Attwood said.

“I think it’s likely that each of them heard some of the news coverage, and there’s probably an initial shock period where you try to figure out what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it,” Attwood said.

Shawn Worden, Hartman’s attorney, had not received all of the information regarding the new charges and declined comment.

The addition of new counts means Hartman has the right to a preliminary examination at the 86th District Court.

Attwood said if Hartman exercises that option, the case would be moved back down from circuit to district, delaying the July trial date — possibly until the fall.

The current charges against Hartman include four felony counts and two misdemeanor counts. He is charged with one count of first-degree CSC against a boy who was 6 or 7 years old and is said to have occurred more than 30 years ago when he was a first-grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary.

Hartman also faces two felony second-degree CSC counts against two boys who were 8 or 9 years old, one felony count of accosting a child for immoral purposes and two misdemeanor counts of furnishing alcohol to minors, which prosecutors said occurred between 2009 and 2018 when Hartman was the principal at Kingsley Middle School.

All of these charges stem from statements of four former students who are now adults.

One of the accuser’s health mental health counseling records will be provided to the court for review. 13th Circuit Court Judge Kevin Elsenheimer denied a motion from Erin Sedmak, attorney for Traverse Health Clinic and William Fowler (the accuser’s counselor), who requested prior restraint over the records before submitting them to the court for review. Elsenheimer will make a judgment as to what is relevant for the trial before releasing that information to Attwood and Worden.