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Published: Sunday, 12/10/2006

Teacher arrested in Internet sex sting

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

ELIDA, Ohio - An Elida High School teacher and coach called in sick Wednesday night for Thursday's classes and then drove about 80 miles south where he had arranged to have sex with a 14-year-old girl he met on the Internet, authorities said.

But it turned out that the person Michael Rossfeld had been chatting with online almost every day for a month was really a police detective.

Mr. Rossfeld, 45, who has taught science and served as an assistant varsity football coach at Elida High School in Allen County for eight years, was charged by police in Fairborn, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton, with one count of attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and one count of importuning.

He was arrested at a business shortly before 11 a.m. Thursday and spent some time in the Fairborn jail before he posted bond in the afternoon.

By midafternoon, Fairborn police had called the Elida High School principal, who then passed the news on to Superintendent Don Diglia.

"At that point, I sat there with my jaw open for a little while," Mr. Diglia said. "Mike was very well respected in our community. This is just one of the last guys you'd ever think would do something like this."

Mr. Rossfeld, who has been a teacher for 23 years, teaches biology, earth and space, and physical science classes for general track students at Elida, where he lives. Before joining Elida, he taught and coached at Wayne Trace High School in Paulding County for 13 years, Mr. Diglia said. Before that, he taught elsewhere for two years.

Mr. Rossfeld's classes Friday were taught by a substitute.

Mr. Diglia said he has not yet decided whether to put Mr. Rossfeld on paid or unpaid leave.

The superintendent said he did not have any reason to believe that any local teenagers had been propositioned by Mr. Rossfeld.

He is to appear in Fairborn Municipal Court on Friday.

If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison on the attempted unlawful sexual conduct charge and a year on the importuning charge.

Mr. Rossfeld, who does not have a criminal record, is the 75th person to be arrested in two years by Fairborn's Internet crime unit, said Sgt. Mark Stannard, of the Fairborn Police Department.



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