Fairfield teacher goes on trial on indecency charges
BRIDGEPORT - A popular Fairfield high school teacher goes on trial Monday, accused of twice exposing himself to a female student.
Jeff Iwanicki, 46, who teaches graphic arts at Fairfield Ward High School, is facing a six-member, Superior Court jury charged with two counts of impairing the morals of a minor, two counts of public indecency and two counts of breach of peace.
Iwanicki, who has taught at the high school six years and before that at Fairfield Woods Middle School, was arrested after the then 15-year-old girl told school officials Iwanicki had twice exposed himself to her in his classroom in the high school.
However, despite the arrest Iwanicki has kept his job.
Following several hearings that were well-attended by students and parents supporting Iwanicki, Frederick Ward III, appointed by the Fairfield Board of Education, found the police investigation of the alleged incidents had not been sufficient and the complainant not credible, and recommended the teacher, Jeff Iwanicki, not be fired.
“The arbitrator finds the police investigation was insufficient, lacking in any effort to even ascertain all the witnesses, nor interview them,” Ward stated in his report.
“Jeff Iwanicki suffered the indignity of being falsely accused of a sexual offense by a female student who was found not to be credible after days of testimony,” said Iwanicki’s lawyer, Edward Gavin, at the time. “A false allegation against a distinguished teacher with an exemplary record is unforgivable. This malicious and vicious allegation could have ruined Jeff’s life,” Gavin said.
But prosecutors are not bound by the Board of Education’s decision.
Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Tatiana Messina declined to comment and has pushed on with her case against the teacher.
The trial, before Judge William Holden, is expected to last a week.
The teen claims both incidents occurred in 2016.
Police said after the student complained, she sat down and wrote out three pages detailing what happened.
Police said the student is known to spend all her free time in school in Iwanicki’s classroom working on graphics projects like T-shirts for the school’s bowling team.
On Nov. 2, 2016, she had stayed after class to help clean up silk screening equipment with Iwanicki when he accidentally poured cleaning solution on his pants.
“He said something like, ‘Aw look what I’ve done,’ ” she told police. “I have a nervous habit of not looking people in the eye when I talk, I glanced down to my feet, but something caught my eye.” She said he had exposed himself.
On Dec. 6, 2016, she was discussing with Iwanicki the designs for some T-shirts when she said he exposed himself again.
Iwanicki denied exposing himself to the girl and said her complaint came just days after he chastised her for skipping classes and threatened to go to the dean.