UL teacher guilty of sex crime

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — A Union Local School District teacher pleaded guilty Tuesday to gross sexual imposition involving a student.

Tiffany Ann Cordes, 27, of 201 Burton Drive, Cadiz, had been accused of having a sexual relationship with a male student and charged with sexual battery in connection with a Feb. 3 incident. Her jury trial had been set for today but she instead pleaded guilty to the lesser charge before Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato.

The charge stemmed from a relationship between Cordes and a male student who was 18 years old at the time. According to the Belmont County Prosecutor’s Office, Cordes was charged based on the fact she was in a position of authority over the student, rather than on his age.

“Looking at all the facts and taking everything into consideration, we felt this was the most accurate resolution,” Belmont County Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Vavra said after the hearing.

When charges first came to light, the Union Local Board of Education placed Cordes on administrative leave pending the outcome of the case. Union Local Superintendent Ben Porter has been advised not to comment on the case until after sentencing.

Fregiato set Cordes’ sentencing for Oct. 27. A pre-sentence investigation and victim impact statement were ordered. Cordes will be designated as a Tier 1 sex offender and faces a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison.

Cordes was taken into custody after Tuesday’s hearing to await sentencing.

Bethesda Police Chief Eric Smith said the issue came to light when another student informed his parent of the inappropriate relationship. The parent then contacted the school district administration, which contacted law enforcement.

“It was a joint investigation between the police department and the school administration at Union Local. A concerned student saw what was going on,” he said. “After some interviews and the evidence, it was found that she was definitely guilty of the charge.”

Smith said the relationship had gone on for about two weeks.

“It wasn’t going on very long,” he said.

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