OTTAWA — As victims and their families hugged following five guilty verdicts against a former Kalida teacher, a prosecutor proudly smiled in the background.
Assistant prosecutor Todd Schroeder knew justice had been served.
“Now that this is over and they’ve gotten justice, the healing can begin,” Schroeder said.
A jury of nine women and three men took more than five hours to convict Jeremy Stober of sexual battery, three counts of gross sexual imposition and importuning.
Stober faces up to 10 1/2 years in prison when he is sentenced. Putnam County Judge Randall Basinger ordered Stober to be taken into custody and said sentencing will occur in the next three weeks.
A jury acquitted the 42-year-old Stober on one count of gross sexual imposition, tampering with evidence and attempted sexual battery. Stober, who coached volleyball and baseball in Kalida schools, showed no emotion as he was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
Schroeder said it was a long and difficult journey for the victims. One witness said Stober made advances toward her in 1995, Schroeder said, only a year after Stober began teaching.
Schroeder said he was thankful five girls had the courage to come forward to testify. Numerous girls interviewed who were around Stober during his career made similar statements, Schroeder said.
“His nickname among the girls was 'Creeper,'” Schroeder said.
Schroeder parents should understand young girls do not immediately report sexual abuse.
“This is the rule, not the exception,” Schroeder said.
The trial ended on its fourth day, which began with Stober on the stand trying to explain away thousands of text messages he sent girls over the years. Stober essentially called the victims who testified liars.
Stober seemed to have at least one or two girls he was texting daily, sometimes more than 50 times a day, for years. He often initiated the texting.
During his closing arguments, Schroeder said Stober followed a pattern with each girl.
“Already in his second year of teaching, he is moving forward with young girls. What is he doing? He’s testing the waters. He’s saying these words waiting for a response,” Schroeder said.
Stober had sexual intercourse with one of the victims, Schroeder said. The others were touched inappropriately.
Stober’s attorney, John Fisher, said the only thing the prosecution showed is Stober had poor judgment at times. He said there was no evidence to prove a crime took place.
“It’s not whether Jeremy Stober texted,” Fisher said. “I told Jeremy he crossed the line as a teacher sending texting. He’s gone way over the line here, folks, in terms of interacting personally with students.”
Schroeder said Stober was smart in the way he went after the girls.
“Sexual predators choose their victims, and they don’t want to get caught, and they are careful. Where do these offenses take place? Within the privacy of a closed space in a room where there are not witnesses,” Schroeder said.
Schroeder said Stober destroyed a time of innocence for the girls.
“The memories of their high school years will be with them when they’re 30 and when they’re 40,and the memories should have never been taken away from them,” Schroeder said.
This story was first posted at 9:43 a.m. and updated at 10:40 a.m. and 12:25 p.m., 7:07 p.m. and 9:45 p.m.