ARMADA TWP. (WWJ) – An eighth-grade science teacher is facing several charges after being accused of having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old student.
Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said 25-year-old Robert Yaek engaged in a series of sexual encounters with the girl, who is in seventh-grade, between February and May of this year.
The illicit rendezvous took place in a closet adjacent to Yaek’s classroom, Smith said, and also at a rented house in Armada Township.
Yaek is also accused of sending a number of explicit photographs of himself to the girl’s cell phone.
“Parents entrust their children to the care of teachers,” Smith said in a statement. “…This man’s actions are an outrageous breach of that sacred trust. He must account for that breach under the law.”
In an interview Wednesday with WWJ Newsradio 950, Smith said Yaek took advantage of his situation.
“It’s worse when you have someone that you trust doing this, you know? It would be like a police officer or a fireman, you know, and this may even be worse than that, because (teachers) have constant care and control over your kids every day,” Smith said.
“This teacher certainly had the opportunity to abuse this trust, abuse his position of authority; and, you know, that’s what makes this a crime, you know,” he said. “That’s what makes this a life felony: He abused his position of authority.”
Yaek, who has since resigned from the Armada School District, is charged with three counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of distributing sexually explicit matter to children, two counts of using a computer to commit a crime, and one count of possession of child sexually abusive material. He faces up to life in prison if convicted as charged.
Smith said he cannot stress enough that parents need to be involved with their kids’ lives — especially at this age.
“Thirteen is a trying time for young kids, or young adults, I guess you could say,” Smith said. “We need to make sure we’re checking their Facebook, that we’re checking their phone, we’re checking their texts, we’re checking their emails…I don’t want to sound like big brother, but we can get out in front of a lot of these issues before they happen, you know, and help guide our kids on a right path.”
Yaek is expected to be arraigned in 42-1 District Court in Romeo later this week.
Yaek is a 2011 graduate of Central Michigan University. According to his profile on the Armada Area Schools website, Yaek — who says his favorite number is 13 — decided to become a teacher because of the relationships he had with some of his teachers growing up.
“I believe in doing what I feel is best for students and helping guide them to be productive and positive members of society,” Yaek wrote. “I believe in teaching students to respect themselves, their peers and adults.”