PARK CITY — A middle school band teacher has been arrested and accused of convincing a student to answer questions about sex through email for a scientific study he had made up, eventually asking the teen to engage in sex acts.
Derek Spitzer, 53, a teacher at Park City's Ecker Hill Middle School, is charged with solicitation to commit sodomy on a child and solicitation to commit aggravated sexual abuse of a child, both first-degree felonies. He is also charged with two counts of enticing a minor by Internet or text, one a second-degree felony and the other a third-degree felony.
Between Oct. 1 and Jan. 7, police say Spitzer exchanged about 500 emails on school computers with a 13-year-old boy, whom he had recruited to participate in a scientific study he claimed was associated with the Kinsey Institute, a research organization at Indiana University studying sex, gender and reproduction.
Spitzer promised financial compensation in exchange for participation in the fake study, charging documents state. The teen told police that Spitzer gave him $50 and a "thank you" card for his participation.
The emails asked the teen for details about his genitalia, and included questions about sexual practices and preferences, the charges state. Over time, police say the questions became more explicit and Spitzer requested nude photographs and solicited and offered sex acts.
"Spitzer even asked the student to spend time with him in the Salt Lake Valley and invited the student to accompany him to Las Vegas where he would be conducting sexual research on other nude males ," the charges state.
The student became increasingly uncomfortable with the emails, investigators said, and he reported what was happening to a school counselor on Jan. 7.
Spitzer was terminated from his teaching job on Jan. 12, according to the Park City School District. He remained in the Summit County Jail Thursday with an initial court appearance scheduled for Feb. 1.
An alternative charge of solicitation to commit sexual exploitation of a minor, a third-degree felony, was also filed against Spitzer.
Spitzer was charged in an unrelated case in November of 2014 with criminal mischief, a class B misdemeanor, for damaging property at a Salt Lake home he was renting. The case was dismissed as part of a plea in abeyance on Jan. 5, two days before the teen revealed Spitzer's emails to the school counselor, after court documents indicate Spitzer had complied with all laws, completed unspecified treatment and paid fines.
Spitzer also pleaded no contest in 2012 to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct in Saratoga Springs. No details about the charge were provided in court filings.