The former South Adams Elementary School principal accused of engaging in sexual contact with a student at another school, is out of custody on a $35,000 bond after appearing for an initial hearing in a Michigan City court on Friday.
Brian Strauss, who resides in Michigan City, is charged with two counts of sexual misconduct with a minor and one count each of child solicitation and vicarious sexual gratification. The charges could bring a maximum prison sentence of 39 years.
Strauss resigned his post at South Adams on October 3, saying he was under investigation in another community. Strauss became the South Adams Elementary principal prior to the 2010-2011 school year, replacing Scott Litwiller when the latter was named superintendent.
Strauss had previously been a teacher at South Central Elementary in Union Mills in LaPorte County, where the alleged relationship took place.
The investigation began in August when the girl first made the allegations to authorities.
In a Michigan City News-Dispatch story by Stan Maddux, it was noted that court documents describe an inappropriate relationship between Strauss and a then-15-year-old girl began in the summer of 2008 with some Internet chatting. The content of the online exchanges became sexual in nature over the next several weeks, with the girl at the request of Strauss becoming naked in front of a web camera, the court documents say.
The girl told investigators she and Strauss had sexual contact at the school on several occasions, when she was between ninth and tenth grade, according to the court documents.
After her freshman year, the girl enrolled in a driver’s education course and Strauss was a driver’s education instructor. The girl told police that Strauss, during that summer, arranged for extra training sessions with her so they could be alone and during those periods there was sexual contact between him and the girl. Strauss would quit fondling her during moments of heavy traffic out of concern other motorists would see the activity, court documents revealed.
According to the News-Dispatch story, Strauss admitted to a relationship with the girl and corresponding with her on the Internet. He denied having any physical contact with her, police said.
Strauss also told investigators he allowed the relationship to continue because he enjoyed receiving the attention, according to court documents.