Michigan high school band teacher is charged with sex crimes.
Christopher Traskal, 42, of Sterling Heights, the former marching band director at Eisenhower High School in Macomb County, is facing sex crime charges in two cases involving students. Traskal has been charged with one count each of “child sexually abusive activity and using a computer to commit a crime.” Both charges are twenty-year felonies. He has also been charged with two counts of “fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct,” a two-year felony, the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office said.
“Traskal was with Utica Community Schools for 18 years and was band director at the time he resigned October 27,” said Tim McAvoy, the district’s director of school and community relations. McAvoy said, “Traskal was an instrumental music teacher and marching band director. He began at Eisenhower September 2010.”
During an investigation, authorities have alleged they discovered “over a period of several months” this year, “Traskal sent emails to a 17-year-old student.” Eventually, these emails escalated and became sexual in nature. “Traskal’s in-school conversations and interactions with the student became increasingly inappropriate,” a release stated. The student showed the messages to her parents and they contacted the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office three days before Traskal resigned.
The Sheriff’s Office said, “Investigators executed several search warrants on multiple electronic devices and located several emails in which the teacher solicited the 17-year-old student.”
The second case, allegedly occurring in 2011, involved a former student of Traskal’s whom he befriended in middle school. The prosecutor’s office said the victim saw an article about Traskal resigning and it prompted her to feel comfortable finally coming forward on November 1. The sheriff’s office indicated both victims said they “had difficulty coming forward because of the teacher’s status within the school.”
He eventually befriended the student’s mother, manipulating their relationship so he was able to spend more time with the victim,” the prosecutor said. The release added, “He began engaging in inappropriate interactions with the victim while she was a high school student, taking her to his home and trying to provide her with alcohol. The interactions escalated to the point of the suspect bringing the victim to an event and sexually assaulting her in 2011.”
“It is important that we teach our children to speak up when suspicious behavior is occurring. This behavior can be inappropriate comments to something more serious such as unwanted touching,” Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said. “We want to stress that parents sit down with their children and not only talk about their day but the people that they come into contact with as well. Discuss the different trusted adults they can confide in which may include parents, a friend’s parents, school counselors and resource officers, and tip lines such as OK2Say, etc.”
Prosecutor Eric Smith said, “We hope that through the media coverage of this case and knowing that this band teacher will be held accountable, if more victims exist, they will find the courage and strength to come forward and tell their story.”
The charges against Traskal were entered a week after former girls’ basketball coach at Eisenhower High School, Dave Willman, was terminated and is under investigation for allegedly sending sexually explicit text messages to a player.