A former English teacher at a Hancock Park all-girls admits he had sex with two of his former students, one of whom became pregnant, but he has paid a high price for his conduct by going to jail and seeing the breakup of his marriage, according to court papers filed by his attorney.
Lawyer Michael Denison states in court papers filed on behalf of 50-year-old Joseph Koetters that his client’s congenial personality was attributable in part to his having improper relationships with Chelsea Burkett and the second ex-student, who is identified only as Jane Doe 2. Both attended Marlborough School.
“Regrettably, Koetters’ personality led him to being overly friendly with some students, including complimenting students and touching some on the shoulder and others on the knee,” Denison’s court papers state. “Even more regrettably, this led to affairs between Koetters and Burkett and (Jane Doe 2).”
Koetters “is remorseful over the affairs with each plaintiff,” according to Denison’s court papers.
Koetters is a defendant in consolidated lawsuits by both plaintiffs. His attorney’s overview of the case is outlined in a trial brief filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. Burkett previously settled with Marlborough School, but Jane Doe 2 is still pursuing her case against the institution. Both women also are proceeding with the part of their cases against Viewpoint School in Calabasas, where Koetters previously taught.
According to Denison’s court papers, Burkett was a student in Koetters’ English class in 2000-01 and received mostly A’s during her four years at Marlborough, including the time before, during and after her affair with the teacher.
Normal meetings between the two to talk about study topics turned to discussions about each others’ personal lives and, eventually, “evolved into touching, kissing and sex,” according to Denison’s court papers. “The sexual contact occurred off campus and many times occurred at Koetters’ house, where they met for that purpose.”
The relationship lasted for several months, but ended before Burkett graduated. But the two continued to have contact and they communicated by email for a while after she began classes at Stanford University, Denison’s court papers state.
Koetters impregnated Burkett during their relationship, but contrary to her testimony, she never told him she was expecting and they never discussed her having an abortion, according to Denison’s court papers. She later miscarried.
Throughout their relationship, Burkett knew Koetters was married and had children, according to the trial brief.
“Without threats or force, she met him at his house to have sex,” Denison’s court papers state.
Jane Doe 2, now 30, was in Koetters’ English class in 2003-04, and like Burkett, she had good grades before, during and after her relationship with the teacher, Denison’s court papers say. She, too, had sex with Koetters at his home and their relationship ended before her senior year, according to Denison’s court papers.
“At no time during the relationship, or at any time before 2014, did Jane Doe 2 complaint to anyone at Marlborough or to the police about the affair she had with Koetters,” Denison’s court papers state.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers say in court papers that they learned during the pretrial exchange of information between the parties on the Burkett-Marlborough allegations that the administration at Viewpoint School fired Koetters for inappropriate conduct with students at that private co-educational campus, but still gave him a “glowing recommendation” before he was hired at Marlborough.
Koetters was dubbed “creepy Koetters” because of his inappropriate behavior with girls at Viewpoint, Burkett’s attorneys allege in their court papers.
In a “Nightline” interview that aired April 11, Burkett went public with her name and discussed being the victim of childhood sexual abuse. She alleged that she did not realize Koetters caused her psychological harm until 2014, when she read an online essay written by another female who claimed she also was sexually harassed by the teacher.
Koetters was arrested in February 2015. The Santa Monica resident was sentenced to a year in county jail in October 2015 for engaging in sex acts with both women. He was released early and completed a year-long program for sex offenders, according to his lawyer.
“Although what Koetters did should never have happened, and in on way attempting to gain sympathy for him, he has been severely punished and his life as been ruined,” according to Denison’s court papers.
Koetters and his wife divorced and his children live with his former spouse. Koetters, who holds a doctorate in English literature, is banned from teaching and is unemployed, according to his lawyer.
The causes of action filed against Koetters are sexual abuse of a minor, sexual harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial of the plaintiffs’ cases is scheduled Nov. 6.
–City News Service