BERLIN - The Berlin High School teacher and former swimming coach charged this week in connection with an alleged past sexual relationship with a senior at the school is still suspended with pay.
Superintendent of Schools Brian Benigni said Wednesday night that the district must, under state statute, await the outcome of the case against Michael Cwirka before making a decision.
Cwirka, 29, of Meriden, was charged Monday with three counts of second-degree sexual assault and five counts of fourth-degree sexual assault. He was a math teacher and a class and club adviser at the high school before his suspension in February, when the allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a student surfaced.
In a letter sent home to parents Benigni wrote, “While I cannot comment of (sic) the specifics of the case, please know that the safety and well-being of all students is and will always be the first priority in the Berlin Public Schools.”
He also wrote that the school district had placed Cwirka on administrative leave as soon as it learned of the investigation and has been in close contact with law enforcement since.
Cwirka was charged after the student disclosed the sexual relationship to a therapist at a university in Pennsylvania, according to the arrest warrant.
Because most of the activity took place in Meriden, the investigation was transferred there after Berlin police had begun an initial probe.
Meriden police found the relationship began in late 2016 as a friendly one, since the victim was on the swimming team and Cwirka was her class adviser, according to his arrest warrant. The relationship grew sexual, with several incidences of sexual activity by the end of the 2016-17 school year, the warrant stated.
After the victim asked Cwirka if it was still OK to communicate, the two were still talking in November 2017. In January of this year, the victim appeared to come to terms with the situation and felt the relationship was wrong, the warrant said.
Witnesses, including the victim’s sister, told investigators of stories she had allegedly shared with them of her sexual encounters with Cwirka, according to the warrant.
Cwirka’s attorney says his client “categorically denies” the allegations, according to The Associated Press.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.