Former Utah teacher charged for sending sexual messages to 13-year-old boy

Posted at 1:19 PM, Jan 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-28 23:28:44-05

PARK CITY, Utah - The Summit County Attorney’s Office is charging a former music teacher with sending inappropriate e-mails to a 13-year-old boy.

Derek Spitzer, 53, used to teach music at Ecker Hill Middle School.

"Shocked, shocked! My daughter has him in band," parent Tracie Rossi said of the news Spitzer was facing charges.

Police said he used school computers to send more than 500 sexual messages to a student over a four-month period. Charging documents indicate the man paid a student $50 to participate in a fake survey, during which he asked about the boy's sexual activity, requested nude photos and videos and told the student he wanted to do inappropriate things to him.

The victim eventually shared the e-mails with a school counselor.

"Nobody is to blame, especially the victim," said Christine Sally, an investigator for the Summit County Attorney's Office. "He did great in the fact he felt comfortable enough to come forward."

The Park City School District then notified the Summit County Sheriff's Office and placed Spitzer on leave.

"Any time these type of allegations come to light, we take them very seriously," said Joy  Natale, a prosecuting attorney for the Summit County Attorney's Office.

Spitzer was fired January 12 after the district's investigation.

He is now facing felony charges for solicitation to commit sodomy on a child, solicitation to commit aggravated sexual abuse of a child, and enticing a minor.

The school district, Ecker Hill Administration and Summit County Attorney's Office held a meeting Thursday night to offer information to parents. In a post on Facebook, the district states the specifics of the case couldn't be discussed but, "information will be presented to help ensure your child's safety and help you facilitate an open dialog at home."

The meeting was held at Ecker Hill Auditorium from 6:00-6:45 p.m., and a Spanish translated session followed from 7:00-7:45 p.m.

"I think they're doing a good job at informing the parents as best as they can," Rossi said of the situation.

But, she also noted this marks the third time in two years a Park City District employee has been charged with sexual crimes. She said in two of the cases, her daughter was that employee's student.

"Having to have these conversations a second time within a two-year span is very concerning to me as a parent," she said.