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Michigan State Police investigating Patrick Hickey

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    Board member Patrick Hickey arrives to a Washington Local Schools Board meeting Tuesday, January 16, 2018.

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    Washington Local school board member Patrick Hickey makes an unsuccessful motion to revote for board president during a Washington Local school board meeting Thursday, January 18, 2018, at Conn-Weissenberger American Legion Post 587 in Toledo.

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Investigators launched a criminal probe into Washington Local Schools board member and former superintendent Patrick Hickey, who is accused of having inappropriate relations with students while he worked at a school district in Michigan.

Michigan State Police Lt. Tony Cuevas said investigators have reopened a criminal sexual conduct case they were looking into in 2016.

A 2016 police report shows a woman told an investigator she had sex with Mr. Hickey when she was 14, and he was her coach and teacher at Addison High School in Addison, Mich., more than two decades ago.

Lenawee County prosecutors at the time declined to press charges because the woman requested that they not, and because it was reported outside the statute of limitations, according to both the police report and Scott Baker, chief assistant prosecuting attorney for the county.

“The same victim wants to move forward with criminal charges, and the statute of limitations for that particular crime is no longer an issue,” Lieutenant Cuevas said Thursday.

State police are investigating an allegation of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, which is punishable by life in prison and has no statute of limitations, Lieutenant Cuevas said.

Mr. Hickey could not immediately be reached for comment. He has previously denied wrongdoing.

Angie Borders, a senior trial attorney for the Lenawee County prosecuting attorney’s office, also confirmed the investigation Thursday.

“There is an open investigation in our county being conducted by the Michigan State Police Department,” she said. “I am not prepared to discuss the details of the nature of the investigation or any other details pertaining to it.”

Mr. Hickey resigned as Washington Local’s superintendent in December, 2015, shortly before the school board could consider a resolution to fire him because of 37 charges compiled by a board-hired law firm. Those charges included that he failed to inform the district that he left Addison Community Schools in 1990 because of accusations he had inappropriate relations with students.

He was elected to serve on the Washington Local school board in November.

Board President Tom Ilstrup said he was “saddened that all this is coming as it is” and that the full board will have to discuss the situation with their legal counsel.

“I intend to let the Michigan State Police continue their investigation and move forward. It is out of our hands. At this point, he is a member of the board and we’ll deal with it on that basis,” he said.

Ohio law states anyone who pleads guilty to or is convicted of committing a felony is “incompetent to be an elector or juror or to hold an office of honor, trust, or profit.”

In order to serve as an elected official, one must be a qualified elector in the jurisdiction, said Jennifer Hardin, Ohio School Boards Association’s deputy director of legal services.

Former Addison student Kristina Hassenzahl has twice addressed WLS board members during their meetings about what she described as “inappropriate comments” and “grooming” by Mr. Hickey when she was a teenager and he was her basketball coach. She told The Blade that Mr. Hickey made repeated sexually suggestive comments to her when she was a teenage student, and even though he did not have sex with her, she said she felt guilty for not coming forward sooner.

She said Thursday the state police investigation was “30 years in the making.”

“We have found our voices. We are not backing down, and he is going to have to answer,” she said.

Lieutenant Cuevas encouraged anyone with information to call the Michigan State Police Monroe Post at 734-242-3500.

Contact Sarah Elms at selms@theblade.com419-724-6103, or on Twitter @BySarahElms.

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