A gym teacher at Crestview Middle School in Huntington has been suspended after he was charged this week with child molesting and other offenses that allegedly occurred when he was a teacher at Imagine Master Academy in Fort Wayne.
Eric M. Gerdes, 39, of Huntington, was charged Monday in Allen Superior Court with two counts of sexual misconduct with a minor, child molesting, vicarious sexual gratification and dissemination of matter harmful to minors, all felonies.
“It has been brought to our attention that legal action has been taken in regard to an employee of the Huntington County Community School Corporation,” Superintendent Chad Daugherty said in an email. “Appropriate actions were taken by HCCSC Administration immediately upon notification of this matter. Our number one priority is always the safety and security of our students and staff members. Due to this being an open investigation, we are unable to comment further.”
The alleged abuse occurred at the Imagine Master Academy charter school between 2011 and 2013, when the victim said she was, at one point, 13 years old and in the sixth grade.
The victim told police she was forced to perform sex acts on Gerdes several times in his classroom. He also performed sex acts on her and had her perform a sex act on video chat for him several times, court records said.
Gerdes was released from the Allen County Jail on Monday on $35,000 bond.
A parent told The Journal Gazette that Gerdes has worked for the district for two years and told her, when he was hired, he was “an ex-police officer.”
The parent said she was a previous employee of the district and only wanted to be quoted anonymously.
When asked if Gerdes was on paid or unpaid leave, Daugherty replied that the district could not discuss personnel matters “other than he is suspended at this time.”
Imagine Master Academy and a sister school closed their doors in 2013 when Ball State University declined to renew their charters, citing poor academic performance and insufficient growth. Horizon Christian Academy, a private school, took over Imagine Master Academy's campus in 2013.