LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Amelia Earhart Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Joe Kimerer found himself in jail Friday morning facing 13 charges of sexual misbehavior with children.
Kimerer, 46, was supposed to be teaching children how to pitch a baseball during private lessons at Earhart Elementary School. Instead, he was coaching them to masturbate and take photos and videos of the act and of their penises, according to the probable cause affidavit.
The charges indicate the earliest allegations date back to the summer of 2014, and the most recent incident was Feb. 26, according to charges.
At various times, Kimerer asked the boys during practice to go to the bathroom and masturbate, then he asked them to tell him about the ejaculate, according to the affidavit. He also asked the boys about their pubescent development and asked about their penis sizes, according to the affidavit.
Lafayette police said that many of the incidents happened inside the school during school hours.
Kimerer also contacted the boys at home to ask them if they had masturbated by using code phrases such as asking if the boys had “done their homework,” according to the affidavit.
He also texted the boys asking them to delete the conversations after he’d asked them about their penis sizes or masturbation, according to the affidavit.
Kimerer was booked in about 10 a.m., according to jail records. He was arrested at his home without incident, according to Lafayette police.
He is charged with four counts of vicarious sexual gratification with a child under 14 years old, two counts of child exploitation, two counts of attempted child exploitation, four counts of child solicitation and one count of inappropriate communication with a child.
His bail is $500,000 surety bond and $50,000 cash.
Lafayette School Superintendent Les Huddle said, “It obviously is an unfortunate situation you hope would never happen.”
Kimerer was assigned to home duties on Feb. 27, Huddle said.
The reassignment came the day administrators learned of the allegations, and it was the quickest way to remove Kimerer from the school environment without the administrative hoops required for suspensions, Huddle said.
The school district started procedures Friday to terminate Kimerer’s employment, Huddle said. That action has not yet been set for a board vote.
Amelia Earhart Principal Ryan Habben sent parents a message late Friday morning about Kimerer’s arrest and noted that the district is beginning the employment termination process against Kimerer.
“We understand that these allegations will be very troubling to anyone who might have associated with Mr. Kimerer,” Habben wrote. “The allegations are of the utmost gravity in that they implicate unprofessional conduct by a teacher towards a student.
“While this report is alarming, we want every parent to know that we will continue to provide a safe and nurturing environment for all students … .”
Lafayette police began an investigation of Kimerer on Feb. 27, and Earhart parents received an email Feb. 28 sent by Habben, who noted only that a staff member was under investigation. Habben said that staff member was reassigned to home during the investigation.
In a response to a Journal & Courier freedom of information request filed Wednesday, Huddle noted that Kimerer has no prior disciplinary actions during his career with the school district.
In his online bio profile published on the school’s website, Kimerer says he’s been a teacher for 18 years, which Huddle confirmed as up-to-date.
As was standard practice then and now, Kimerer passed a background check before Lafayette schools hired him, Huddle said.
Journal & Courier records indicate that Kimerer has served as an assistant baseball coach for Jefferson High School. Huddle said Kimerer resigned late last year as assistant coach. The resignation was before the allegations surfaced about Kimerer’s abuse.
Huddle said the central administration was not aware that Kimerer was using the Earhart facilities for private instruction in baseball. It did not know whether the school administrators were aware of Kimerer’s use of the building.
Habben said he was aware of the baseball lessons and that any staff is allowed to use the school facilities after hours. Habben, however, was unaware of how the pitching lesson students were referred to Kimerer.
The Journal & Courier called Jefferson High School athletic director Peyton Stovall to ask if he knew how the students were referred to Kimerer’s lessons. In an email response, Stovall referred all questions to the central office.
In 2010, Kimmer was a member of the board of directors for the Lafayette Youth Baseball, according to minutes of the league’s Jan. 3, 2010, meeting.