Ex-Teacher at Elite L.A. Girls School Charged With Having Sexual Relationship With Female Student
Joseph Koetters taught English at the Marlborough School, attended by the children of countless Hollywood luminaries, one of whom wrote a blog post in which she claimed he made inappropriate contact with her.
A former teacher at Los Angeles' elite Marlborough School, attended by the children of many Hollywood luminaries, was charged with having a sexual relationship with a female student for more than a year, the L.A. County District Attorney's Office announced on Wednesday.
Joseph Koetters, who formerly taught English at the all-girls prep school, was charged with four felony counts: two counts of oral copulation of a person under 18 and two counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object.
The case against Koetters was filed on Tuesday, he was booked and released on $140,000 on Wednesday, and he is scheduled for arraignment on Thursday. If convicted, Koetters faces up to five years in state prison.
Marlborough Head of School Barbara Wagner sent a message to parents early Wednesday evening, informing them of the recent news and charges brought against Koetters.
"I have no doubt it has been difficult for you to read this upsetting information about our School, and I share in your sadness for our entire community, but especially for the victims," she wrote in an email. The email also stated that an influx of news vans and reporters had descended upon the campus in an attempt to speak to school employees and parents, but she told parents that the school's top priority is the safety and welfare of students.
In 2000, the teacher allegedly had a yearlong sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student, the D.A.'s office said. The former student reported the incident in July 2014 after learning about other alleged victims through an online essay written by former Marlborough student Mikaela Gilbert-Lurie, who claimed Koetters made inappropriate advances toward her when she was in 11th grade.
Gilbert-Lurie, who now attends the University of Pennsylvania, is the daughter of prominent entertainment attorney Cliff Gilbert-Lurie, a senior partner at Ziffren Brittenham, and Leslie Gilbert-Lurie, a politically active figure in Los Angeles.
"You might think that he got slammed with a sexual harassment suit or at the very least immediately got fired and left ignominiously with a marred reputation," Gilbert-Lurie wrote in her June essay. "None of that happened. He was not fired. His only punishment was counseling."
In the wake of Gilbert-Lurie's essay, other former students were discovered to have complained about Koetters making inappropriate contact with them.
Koetters voluntarily left Marlborough in 2013 and began working at Polytechnic School, a private school in Pasadena, but he resigned in July after the allegations of his behavior at Marlborough surfaced. Principal Wagner, has requested to resign, effective June 30, 2015.
Feb. 4, 6:38 p.m.: Updated with statement from Head of School at Marlborough School, Barbara E. Wagner