Berkley man, former teacher found guilty in sexual assault of former students

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published April 24, 2023

 Jason Debandt

Jason Debandt


BERKLEY — A former teacher and Berkley resident has been found guilty of criminal sexual conduct and distributing sexually explicit material to a minor.

Jason Debandt, 44, was found guilty April 21 in the Oakland County Circuit Court of two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of distributing sexually explicit material to a minor for actions against two of his former students in his Berkley home.

Debandt will be sentenced at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 6. His attorney, Steven Vitale, could not be reached for comment at press time.

Berkley Public Safety Detective Lt. Andrew Hadfield said the department was happy that the jury came to its verdict and saw, through the evidence and the testimony of the women, what Debandt was doing. Hadfield also said that he applauded the bravery of the women who came forward to share what happened.

“There’s numerous girls in this case that were able to come forward with the allegations,” he said. “The two in Berkley, we’re just very happy and proud that the jury saw the way we did and that (the women) were able to convince them.”

An investigation into Debandt began in September 2020 after former students of his at Clarenceville High School in Livonia came forward with allegations of criminal sexual conduct. Two of those students alleged the acts were committed in Debandt’s Berkley home, leading local police to get involved.

The two women involved in this case were 16-17 years old at the time of the incidents, which took place between 2013 and 2016. Debandt groomed the students, according to police, by buying them gifts and having them run errands. The situations escalated to at-home visits, exchanging text messages, sharing nude photos and videos, and sexual contact, according to police.

Hadfield also noted that there are similar allegations from seven other women in other jurisdictions. According to the 3rd Circuit Court website, Debandt has two cases that are still active in Wayne County after they ended in a hung jury; new pretrial hearings are scheduled to be held on May 5. In three other cases in Wayne County that went to the jury, Debandt was acquitted of the charges against him.