Clinton TownshipNovember 7, 2007
Former RHS teacher bound over on criminal sexual conduct charges
By Maria Allard
C & G Staff Writer
CLINTON TOWNSHIP — The young man’s testimony read like a made-for-television movie script.
For about three hours on Nov. 8, an 18-year-old male confidently told those present in Judge Sebastian Lucido’s courtroom of his alleged sexual relationship with former Roseville High School French teacher Janelle Batkins.
He said the two were involved with one another during his senior year in 2006-07 where he was a student aide for Batkins, 42. The two had sex at her Harrison Township home over several months, he testified, and penetration was involved.
The teen’s mother found out, the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department conducted an investigation and Batkins — a married mother of two sons — resigned from her teaching position.
Last Thursday with defense attorney David Griem by her side, Batkins was bound over for a hearing at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 19 in Macomb County Circuit Court on nine counts of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree. Lucido moved the case forward after hearing the teen’s testimony during a preliminary exam in 41B District Court in Clinton Township.
Batkins, originally charged with two counts of CSC in September, remains free on bond. The teen’s name is being withheld from the public because he was 17 during the alleged incidents and is considered a minor in the case. The CSC counts went from two to nine after the teen’s testimony last week. Batkins did not testify at last week’s hearing.
While the legal age of consent is 16 to have sex in Michigan, Batkins was charged with the crime because she was in a position of authority during the alleged affair, which is not in accordance with Michigan law. If convicted, she will serve prison time.
Friends at first
Under questioning from Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor Jean Femminineo, of the Sex Crime Unit, the teen said he and Batkins met when he was in the eighth-grade during a school wrestling trip to Iowa. The teen was on the same wrestling team as her son.
The pair became reacquainted during his 10th-grade year at RHS.
“In the 11th grade, we started talking. We talked as friends,” said the teen, adding the pair “talked on the phone every day.”
As a senior, the teen became Batkins’ aide and earned school credit. That’s when they allegedly began sleeping together.
According to the teen, he and Batkins had intercourse several times between December 2006 and April/May 2007 at her home. He also alleged they once had sex in her vehicle on a side street a few blocks away from Eastland Elementary School near 12 Mile and I-94 in Roseville in March of 2007. She had picked him up from a friend’s house where he was at a birthday party.
The pair allegedly kept in contact through their cell phones, text messages, and AOL accounts. The police seized the teen’s computer during the investigation.
In November 2006, one month after the teen’s 17th birthday, he alleged Batkins “invited me over to her house. That’s when we kissed for the first time.” He said that evening coincided with her son’s first wrestling meet. The teen and Batkins drove to Yale together for the meet and then drove back to her house.
The teen alleged he and Batkins first had sex on Dec. 22, 2006. It occurred on an evening when her family was at a Detroit Red Wings game, he said. The two exchanged Christmas presents and “we had sex for the first time.” The teen alleged the pair had intercourse twice in the basement.
“We started kissing, clothes started coming off and then we had sex,” the teen alleged. “We just sat around until it happened again.”
The teen said he and Batkins had intercourse again in January 2007. He alleged during his visits, the sex occurred in different rooms of the house, including her bedroom, her son’s room and a computer room. He also maintained during one visit the pair had intercourse a total of three times.
During one visit on a Friday after school, Batkins’ son came home while the pair was in her bedroom. The teen hid in an adjoining bathroom while she took her son to baseball.
“My clothes were off and on the floor,” the teen said. “I hurried up and grabbed my underwear and my wife-beater (shirt) and put those in the bathroom.”
He waited until she came home 10 minutes later. The teen said that was the last time they had sex. He testified he never used protection with Batkins and at one point she thought she might be pregnant by him and that she said she would keep the baby.
No longer a secret
Under cross-examination, the teen admitted he shared with friends intimate details of his relationship with Batkins. His mother also found out and told her son not to have contact with Batkins anymore, but the relationship continued. The teen told Griem he also stayed on in title only as her aide so he wouldn’t have to take an English class.
“My mom arranged it so my title would be in her class (but) I would not be in her class,” the teen said.
“Taking an English class was worse then a sexual relation with a teacher?” Griem asked.
Under Griem’s questioning, the teen said he showed text messages from Batkins to his friends. He also said he had a girlfriend during his affair with Batkins, but didn’t say for how long.
“Telling your friends you were ‘doing’ Mrs. Batkins, that made you feel important and made you feel you were a real stud,” Griem accused.
“Not anymore than I already am,” the teen said.
The teen did admit to calling Batkins several names, including “stupid b---h,” when she wouldn’t talk to him by phone while she was visiting Chicago.
Griem also asked the teen why his family retained an attorney. The teen said it was in case he needed help with the case. But Griem argued it’s because his family wants to ultimately sue Batkins and Roseville schools and “hit the lottery.”
Sometime toward the end of the school year, the teen and his mother met with school officials about the relationship. In July ’07, police interviewed the teen and the case moved forward.
Batkins resigned from her teaching position last summer prior to her arrest. In 2006, Batkins celebrated her 15th year anniversary with RCS. Many family and friends were in court last week to support her. The teen, who said he is seeing a psychiatrist for his mental state, also had a few supporters.