Edward McFadden – Staff Writer
CLARION, Pa- A Clarion University alumna is accused of having inappropriate sexual relations with a student of Summit Academy where she worked as a special education teacher. 24-year-old Jordan Ondish allegedly had multiple trysts with a 19-year-old male student from her classroom, along with lewd communications. Ondish was fired from the rehabilitation school for juvenile offenders in Herman, near Butler following these accusations, and will hear the case in court early next year.
Evidence of misconduct was discovered when a guard confiscated a cell phone, a prohibited item for students at Summit Academy, from the men’s locker room at the all-male school. The phone, which Ondish secretly bought and supplied to the student some months earlier, contained text message conversations between the two, and sexually explicit photos and videos of Ondish. In his statement to the police the anonymous student reported having two sexual encounters with Ondish, first in early November and again closer to Thanksgiving.
Ondish admitted to having relations with the student, the NY Daily News reports. Referencing an emotional need left by her allegedly abusive fiancé, Ondish reported to police officers that she began out-of-class communications months before the alleged sexual encounters occurred, and bought the phone as a way to continue these conversations.
Earlier in the school year, the staff at Summit Academy delivered written warnings to Ondish regarding her closeness with her student. In it, Summit referenced a school policy that Ondish broke when allowing the student to stay after work hours ended, and sit behind the desk with her. The school prohibits teachers being alone with students.
Still new to the school, Ondish began work at Summit in June 2017, lasting less than half a year as a special education teacher for the juvenile offenders, which reportedly ranged from 14 to 19 years of age.
Summit Academy released a statement in the wake of the accusation, saying, “the administration at Summit Academy was made aware of an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and a student and it was immediately reported to the state police. The teacher was then terminated.”
Ondish faces a criminal charge of institutional sexual assault, a third-degree felony punishable by up to seven years and fines up to $15,000. The victim was not a minor.
On Dec. 4, Ondish was released from police custody on $30,000 unsecured bail. She is arraigned to appear in court Feb. 13 next year. Ondish’s lawyer has not yet responded to media inquiries.
Allegations of sexual misconduct have made frequent headlines nationally in America over the course of the latter half of 2017, including big names such as Harvey Weinstein in October.
The New York Times published a list of 34 public figures that have since been accused of sexual misconduct including politicians, entertainers, writers and actors, notably including Louis C.K. and Matt Lauer.
The Washington Post reports that there were 781 reports of sexual school staff-student relations in 2014 alone, an increase of about 27 percent as compared with previous years.
Locally, Ondish’s accusation story dovetails with the case of former teacher Shaun McLoughlin of Franklin, who was granted 5-year probation on the condition that he register as a sex offender.
McLoughlin pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony count of corruption of minors in July after admitting to having physically intimate relations with a 17-year-old female student.