Suspect had MySpace web site
TROY, NY – The 37-year-old teacher accused of having oral sex with one of his students had a MySpace Web site showing a photo when he was much younger and said his age was 15 years old.
Kirk Hellwig, on paid leave from his social studies teaching position at Columbia High School, was arrested Monday and charged with repeatedly having oral sex at the school during the school day with a 16-year-old student.
The Saratoga Springs resident, free on $25,000 bail, faces three counts each of felony third-degree criminal sex act and endangering the welfare of a child. Authorities say the sex was consensual but a 16 year old cannot legally consent. The victim cooperated in the investigation and is now in therapy.
The MySpace website was deleted sometime between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. Tuesday. A reporter from WTEN did access the site before then and said Hellwig’s profile said he was a 34-year-old teacher in Albany. Police say he is 37-years old.
A scan of the profile’s introductory page before it was deleted shows the site was listed as “private” and claims the proprietor is 15 years old. It also says the site belongs to “Kirk” and that it was last accessed on May 15. A quote next to the photo says “Just Taking Life for a Ride.”
Last week rumors circulated through the halls of Columbia High School that Hellwig was having sexual relations with a student during the school day. Two principals approached police officers working at the school, and, after a short investigation including interviews and a review of computer activity, Hellwig was placed under arrest.
East Greenbush Police Chief Christopher Lavin said MySpace and other public web pages are the realm of “fiction and fantasy” and do not have any place in an official investigation.
The District Attorney’s Office would not comment because of the ongoing investigation. However, other computer activity is part of the investigation.
MySpace, in an e-mail, said the profile was not deleted but it could not be found on the site Tuesday afternoon.
While officials say the relationship may have been going on since January, Hellwig is charged with having sex three different times in three different locations in the school. At this point, there is nothing to lead officials to believe the teacher had contact with any other student.
At least one of his former students and a co-worker said she does not believe Hellwig did what he is accused of and dismissed the fact he claimed to be 15 years old on his MySpace page.
“He was always very friendly and sociable and I’ve seen him outside the school setting and I’ve never seen any indication he would do something like this,” said Tara Berlin, a 2000 graduate who had Hellwig for a Participation in Government Class and then worked with Hellwig and others as a teacher’s assistant. “I don’t believe this is a true story. It is not unbelievable to get mad at a teacher and throw accusations around like this.”
“Until I am proving wrong I am supporting him. If it is true then he deserves what he gets but if it is not true then he just got his name slandered forever.”
She said it is not unusual to lie about your age on MySpace and that she has friends who say they are 99 years old and another friend who is 24 years old but says she is 15 years old on her MySpace page.