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Richmond Co. | Columbia Co. | Aiken Co. |

Harlem High teacher quits after student sex allegation

JROTC instructor, 57, under investigation

Thursday, March 15, 2012 12:10 PM
Last updated 11:46 PM
  • Follow Crime & courts

Harlem High School’s senior Junior ROTC instructor has resigned while under investigation involving a reported sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student.

Mitchell Sivas  SPECIAL
SPECIAL
Mitchell Sivas

Mitchell Sivas, 57, a Thomson resident and retired Army lieutenant colonel, resigned March 4 when confronted by Harlem Principal Dietmar Perez, said Columbia County school Superintendent Charles Nagle.

Under Georgia law, a sexual relationship between a student and teacher from the same school is illegal even if the student is past the age of consent, said Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris.

There is no indication any such activity took place in Columbia County, however, and Thomson police investigating the incident say they believe no crime took place.

Harlem’s principal learned of the allegations after the girl’s father discovered she was at Sivas’ Michael Street home on March 3, Nagle said.

According to a Thomson police report obtained by The McDuffie Mirror, officers questioned the teen and Sivas after finding her at his home. They denied there was a sexual relationship, although each professed “strong feelings” for each other.

Thomson Police contacted Toombs Judicial Circuit District Attorney Dennis Sanders, according to the report, and “upon reviewing the information, it revealed there had not been any criminal activity committed at the time this report was filed.”

In a report filed two days later with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, the teen “did finally admit to having a sexual relationship with … Sivas.”

By the time that report was filed, Perez had already called Sivas to tell him not to return to school, Nagle said.

Sivas responded that he had already visited the school, cleaned out his desk and left a letter of resignation behind.

“He knew he had messed up,” Nagle said.

Sanders said that while the case remains under investigation, and despite the girl’s admission to Columbia County authorities that they had had sex, he still doubts there is a case.

“From what they tell me, there’s no evidence of sexual contact,” Sanders said.

Sanders conceded he is unsure of the law prohibiting sexual contact between students and teachers and said he also isn’t sure whether prosecution of a crime would be under the jurisdiction of the school’s location or of the location where the activity took place.

“There’s a lot of it that’s kind of confusing,” Sanders said. “I just told them to turn it over to Harlem High School.”

Morris said that additional statements from the girl are being collected and will be turned over to Thomson police and that it will be up to them to pursue charges.

“But if we found out something happened here, we’re charging him,” Morris said.

The school system has reported Sivas to the state teacher licensing board, Nagle said.

Though there are no indications that any activities took place at the school, Perez filed the subsequent report with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office out of an abundance of caution, Nagle said.

The teen was not a Junior ROTC student, he said.

Sivas has been Harlem High’s senior Junior ROTC instructor since he was hired in 2011, after previously serving as a Junior ROTC instructor at Grady High School in Atlanta.

Before this incident, Sivas already had planned to leave Harlem High at the end of the school year. He had given notice that he was leaving to take a similar position with higher pay at Hephzibah High School, Nagle said.

According to the Harlem High School Junior ROTC Web site, Sivas is a 26-year veteran who served in Airborne, Air Assault and Special Operations units and “served several combat assignments with Special Forces.”

Harlem’s Junior ROTC team, along with others in the area, is scheduled to compete in this weekend’s JROTC State Drill Meet at Fort Gordon. Nagle said the students likely would continue as planned under instructor Willie Boston.

Comments (58) Add comment
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Sweet son
9716
Points
Sweet son 03/15/12 - 12:46 pm
0
0
Of course, send him to

Of course, send him to Richmond County. Why not today?

Little Lamb
43990
Points
Little Lamb 03/15/12 - 12:50 pm
2
0
What did the Columbia County

What did the Columbia County sheriff's investigator do, give her the third degree?

In a subsequent report filed two days later with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, the teen “did finally admit to having a sexual relationship with LTC. Sivas.”

Girl, what part of "you have the right to remain silent" do you not understand?

meginlea
36
Points
meginlea 03/15/12 - 01:09 pm
2
0
I have a feeling the 'third

I have a feeling the 'third degree' came from "girl's" parents. I suppose my imagination is painting a picture based upon a lot of assumption, but I'm seeing the average suburban middle-class Southern dad talking to his 17 year old daughter afterward, and I'm not seeing him being too happy.

Austin Rhodes
2852
Points
Austin Rhodes 03/15/12 - 01:17 pm
2
1
BINGO ! This entire

BINGO !

This entire investigation was started because (according to the incident report) her daddy found out about it. I believe the she was under orders fron dear old dad to explain the evidence HE discovered and to come clean.

Austin Rhodes
2852
Points
Austin Rhodes 03/15/12 - 01:18 pm
2
1
...and LL...I might be wrong

...and LL...I might be wrong about this...but that girl is, according to law, the victim. Do the cops Mirandize victims?

Dixieman
13061
Points
Dixieman 03/15/12 - 01:22 pm
2
0
57 and 17? Talk about May

57 and 17? Talk about May and December relationships!! This one is a couple of centuries apart!!

Little Lamb
43990
Points
Little Lamb 03/15/12 - 01:28 pm
5
0
I'm just trying to do a

I'm just trying to do a public service here by reminding folks it is best not to answer questions of a policeman. If you want to provide information, do it up front in a prepared statement, but do not fall into a trap of answering questions. It seldom turns out for the best.

Our constitutional rights are precious, and they are under attack every single minute of every single day. Best to stay silent if a policeman asks you a question.

I'll give you an example of how I approach this. I was stopped by a South Carolina state patrol officer driving on a back road. I rolled down the window and when he got to the car he asked, “Do you know how fast you were going?” I said politely, “Perhaps you'd better tell me.” He smiled and told me what his radar gun said.

Richard Marano
0
Points
Richard Marano 03/15/12 - 01:51 pm
0
0
As a former student of

As a former student of Colonel Sivas, I can honestly say he did have a "relationship" with the girl but he was friendly with most of the JROTC cadets. I wish him the best of luck because I know he will need it.

happychimer
16091
Points
happychimer 03/15/12 - 01:51 pm
0
1
I see the relationship as

I see the relationship as wrong, but was it unlawful?

Richard Marano
0
Points
Richard Marano 03/15/12 - 01:56 pm
0
0
Maybe relationship wasn't the

Maybe relationship wasn't the best word to describe it and I'm sure it was probably just her father trying to make his daughter seem like the victim.

happychimer
16091
Points
happychimer 03/15/12 - 01:57 pm
0
0
I don't see an innate

I don't see an innate distrust of cops just because a person does not answer questions that a cop asks.

microprill
2
Points
microprill 03/15/12 - 01:57 pm
0
0
I agree with LL

I agree with LL

Austin Rhodes
2852
Points
Austin Rhodes 03/15/12 - 02:00 pm
0
0
I will endeavor to get the

I will endeavor to get the specific answer to whether it was illegal and why. Ironically, the case that inspires the question was Harlem teacher Melissa Chase and her affair with a female student.

Little Lamb
43990
Points
Little Lamb 03/15/12 - 02:17 pm
4
0
This is just plain, out and

This is just plain, out and out vindictiveness:

“But if we found out something happened here, we’re charging him,” Morris said.

The teacher resigned. The relationship is now out in the open. There is no threat to society. We don't need police resources on this matter any more. Drop it.

twolane
191
Points
twolane 03/15/12 - 02:38 pm
0
0
bahahahahaha dietmar perez
Unpublished

bahahahahaha dietmar perez confronts a man about inappropriate relations..only students from the 1990s harlem alumni will get how funny that is

itsanotherday1
40467
Points
itsanotherday1 03/15/12 - 02:38 pm
4
0
LL is spot on. It is not a

LL is spot on. It is not a matter of innate distrust of police, and you don't have to be a -filtered word-. Any attorney will advise you to say as little as possible in an encounter with police to ensure you don't further incriminate yourself beyond what they are already trying to charge you with. It is their JOB to pick information out of people. I don't fault them one whit for doing their job, but most info they are asking for is none of their business. (where have you been, where are you going, etc)

twolane
191
Points
twolane 03/15/12 - 02:40 pm
0
0
and well whats the difference
Unpublished

and well whats the difference i know alot of 50 and 60 year olds dating and married to 20 year olds

Austin Rhodes
2852
Points
Austin Rhodes 03/15/12 - 02:42 pm
5
3
Dang...wish I could have

Dang...wish I could have dated daughters of guys like you when I was 17.

Where are you going? NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS

Where are you taking my daughter? I DON'T KNOW...WHERE HAVE YOU TAKEN YOUR DAUGHTER?

itsanotherday1
40467
Points
itsanotherday1 03/15/12 - 02:56 pm
2
0
So, you are equating a

So, you are equating a parent's authority over a minor child to a cop questioning them? I sure don't want to live in your police state.

Thank goodness for sane judges. And you wonder why some of us are concerned about our rights when dealing with LE?

http://www.theverge.com/2012/3/2/2840412/illinois-eavesdropping-law-rule...

Riverman1
79697
Points
Riverman1 03/15/12 - 02:49 pm
2
0
Maybe I'm missing something

Maybe I'm missing something when I side with Austin. But we have a high school teacher having sex with a student. What's NOT wrong about that? Doesn't the law say specifically a teacher can't do that? If all we have is a venue issue, that's not a problem as long as it happened in the state.

twolane
191
Points
twolane 03/15/12 - 02:57 pm
0
0
and folks i hate to say this
Unpublished

and folks i hate to say this but this isnt new never has been but just back in the day we knew how to keep a secret.....its these girls always wanting an older man or women wanting a younger man .

Austin Rhodes
2852
Points
Austin Rhodes 03/15/12 - 03:34 pm
2
0
The cops were questioning her

The cops were questioning her with the daddy standing right behind her.

I get your point, but if I ever act that way with a cop, I must be doing something REAL bad...it is not the way I was raised to converse with law enforcement.

Austin Rhodes
2852
Points
Austin Rhodes 03/15/12 - 03:36 pm
0
0
And OMR, the only question is

And OMR, the only question is Augusta or Toombs circuit prosecution.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 03/15/12 - 03:51 pm
0
0
"Where are you taking my

"Where are you taking my daughter? I DON'T KNOW...WHERE HAVE YOU TAKEN YOUR DAUGHTER?"

:0
ur welcome for the thumbs up sir. Just good stuff there.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 03/15/12 - 03:55 pm
1
0
they did say it was illegal

they did say it was illegal for s.e.x. between student and teacher of same school regardless of both being over the age of consent.

I think where they are going toward the issue of someone in authority having opportunity over a subordinate. Kind of the sexual harassment circumstances.

yes, that is my own freestyle grammer

dougk
3
Points
dougk 03/15/12 - 04:17 pm
0
0
How a child is taught to
Unpublished

How a child is taught to address and interact with police officers is one thing. However, adults should be aware of and exercise their rights of protection from government intrusion. We don't have a police state yet...although at least one very vocal local commentator seems to think that might be a good idea.

urright
462
Points
urright 03/15/12 - 04:25 pm
0
1
LL, what kind of assistance

LL, what kind of assistance can the cops be if you don't answer their questions? What if all conversations with victims went like this--"Can you tell me what happened?" "NO! I have the right to remain silent!" "Okay, have a nice day." Would any crime ever be solved?

I'm sure the dad got her to "finally admit" what was going on during the two days they discussed the matter before CC was called. She was just re-telling the truth to the officer.

Little Lamb
43990
Points
Little Lamb 03/15/12 - 04:49 pm
2
0
urright, if you will go back

urright, if you will go back and read my 12:50 post, you will see that I was commenting on a part of the story that I thought implied that Columbia County police grilled this girl over and over and over until she cracked and told them she had a sexual relation with the teacher. Remember that elsewhere in the article we had this statement:

According to a Thomson police report obtained by The McDuffie Mirror, officers questioned the teen and Sivas after finding her at the home. Both denied there was a sexual relationship, though each professed “strong feelings” for each other.

You see, when she changed her story, she is admitting that she lied to the Thomson police, which is a crime. I was just saying that she should not have answered questions of the police. It is now on the record that she has committed a crime — lying to police during an interrogation.

lovebugg
0
Points
lovebugg 03/15/12 - 08:52 pm
0
1
It was wrong for a teacher &

It was wrong for a teacher & student to have a sexual relationship but Georgia law states that at the age of 17 you are no longer considered a minor & may have sexual realtions with whomever you choose. No age limit, so how do you get she was a victim??? She is old enough by the states law to choose her partners!!!! If she wants to be with him let her.. he did resign from the school... age is nothing but a number.. if they have "strong feelings" for each other so be it!!! As for her dad, dude realize your daughter is no longer a little girl.. she has a mind of her own, let her use it!!!!

700
Points
Barry Paschal 03/15/12 - 08:56 pm
2
0
Lovebugg: State law says that

Lovebugg: State law says that it is illegal for a teacher to have sex with a student in the same school, no matter what the student's age and no matter whether the student consents. It is part of the same law that prohibits psychiatrists from having sex with patients, and jailers from having sex with inmates.

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