Former Teacher At Prestigious Private School Pleads Guilty To Molesting Two Students
A former teacher at the elite Marlborough School in Hancock Park pleaded guilty today to molesting two of his former students.
Joseph Koetters, 48, pleaded guilty today to two counts of oral copulation of a person under 18 and two counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object, according to a release from the L.A. County District Attorney's Office. The charges were in regards to two female students. Koetters was sentenced to one year in jail, plus five years probation and one year of sex offender counseling. He is also not allowed to be alone with any female children under the age of 18 other than his own daughter, he can never teach again at any public or private school, and must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. He heads to jail on November 13.
Koetters was a popular and charismatic English teacher at the prestigious all-girls school in Hancock Park, which costs $30,000 a year to attend, for 14 years. How his crimes came to light is an interesting story. Mikaela Gilbert-Lurie, now a student at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote about her experience with Koetters at Marlborough on the website xoJane. She alleged that in the 2011-12 school year, when she was in the 11th grade, Koetters began flirting with her, touching her knee, calling her school uniform "too alluring" and saying she was a tease. She eventually told her brother about Koetters' behavior after the teacher asked her to meet up with him after school. Her brother printed out all of Koetters' emails to Gilbert-Lurie and showed them to their parents, who took them to school officials. Koetters was punished with counseling, but not fired.
"He's still everyone's favorite English teacher, and until the day I graduated he stared at me. Then he left to teach at another school. This is the first time I've told this story publicly, and I'm sorry there's not a more satisfying ending. Some things just leave you feeling empty," Gilbert-Lurie wrote.
After the article came out, Gilbert-Lurie said several other students came forward, messaging her on Facebook to say that even though she hadn't mentioned the teacher by name, they knew exactly who she meant.
One student came forward alleging that her relationship with Koetters went beyond flirting and knee-touching. She said that in 2000, when she was 16 years old, Koetters initiated a sexual relationship with her that went on for a year. The woman's attorney said that Koetters made her feel like a "special star student," and that at one point, Koetters got the girl pregnant, but she miscarried.
Then another student came forward. This one said that Koetters began a relationship with her in 2004 that lasted for five months. She was also 16 at the time.
Koetters had left Malborough in 2013 to go teach at Polytechnic in Pasadena. Gilbert-Lurie's mother claimed to have warned the school about him, but Koetters kept his job there until Buzzfeed began asking about him after interviewing Gilbert-Lurie. Polytechnic said they had never received any reports of misconduct on Koetters' part with their students.