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Ex-Ike band director charged with sex crimes against students

By: Eric Czarnik | C&G Newspapers | Published December 11, 2019

 Former Eisenhower High School band director Christopher Traskal is arraigned via videoconference Dec. 12 at the 41-A District Court in Shelby Township.

Former Eisenhower High School band director Christopher Traskal is arraigned via videoconference Dec. 12 at the 41-A District Court in Shelby Township.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Raymond Correll is Traskal’s attorney.

Raymond Correll is Traskal’s attorney.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Eisenhower High School’s former band director, Christopher Traskal, was charged Dec. 11 with multiple counts pertaining to alleged crimes of a sexual nature against students, according to Macomb County officials.

In a statement, Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith announced that Traskal, 42, is being charged in two jurisdictions: in the 41-A District Court in Shelby Township and in the 41-A District Court in Sterling Heights.

For the Shelby Township-related case, Traskal is facing charges pertaining to one count of child sexually abusive activity and one count of using a computer to commit crime. Both are 20-year felonies, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Law enforcement personnel accused Traskal of emailing a student under his authority over several months, gradually taking on “an inappropriate and sexual nature.” The Prosecutor’s Office added that Traskal’s behavior toward the student also “became increasingly inappropriate” at school.

According to a statement from the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office, deputies heard Oct. 24 about Traskal allegedly sending sexual emails to a 17-year-old female student. Then, the Macomb Area Computer Enforcement unit investigated, issued search warrants and reportedly found several emails “where the teacher solicited the student.”

The other case, being handled in Sterling Heights, reportedly has Traskal facing two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, a two-year felony, the county said.

Authorities say Traskal came to know an ex-student while she was in middle school, grew closer with her family, and then allegedly started acting inappropriately toward her when she was in high school. Traskal allegedly brought the student to his home and attempted to “provide her with alcohol,” and he also allegedly sexually assaulted her at an undisclosed event in 2011, the Prosecutor’s Office said.

The county Sheriff’s Office also explained the second case, adding that a female ex-student said on Nov. 1 that Traskal had been her teacher in 2009.

“This teacher had made her uncomfortable with his behavior and made several inappropriate comments to her,” the Sheriff’s Office stated. “The student was able to provide several pieces of documentation from these incidents and stated that the teacher had touched her inappropriately on two occasions.”

Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham said in a statement that it’s important for parents to encourage their children to report an adult’s inappropriate or sexual behavior if it ever happens.

“Discuss the different trusted adults they can confide in which may include parents, a friend’s parents, school counselors and resource officers, and tip lines such as OK2Say, etc.” he said.

County officials said Traskal no longer works at Utica Community Schools, though he reportedly worked there for 18 years. UCS spokesman Tim McAvoy commented on the situation, adding that Traskal’s employment ended Oct. 27.

“As soon as Utica Community Schools became aware, we addressed the issue immediately,” he said. “We have cooperated with law enforcement. Additionally, we encourage anyone with information or other victims to call police or the school district.”

In a statement, the county prosecutor thanked the students for telling their accounts.

“As parents, we place our utmost trust in the educators that spend countless hours with our children,” Smith said. “This suspect took advantage of his position and exploited the innocence of these children. He broke the trust of not only these families, but others in the school and district. His deplorable actions cast a negative light on the profession as a whole.”

The announced charges against Traskal came days after UCS announced that it was firing Eisenhower ninth-grade girls basketball coach Dave Willman amid a Macomb County investigation into an accusation that he sent sexually explicit messages to a student.

The Sheriff’s Office said Traskal was arrested Dec. 11 and, prior to his arraignments, was at Macomb County Jail, held without bond. At Traskal’s Shelby arraignment Dec. 12, he pleaded not guilty, and bond was set at $50,000 cash surety. His next court date at the Shelby court, a probable cause conference, was set for Dec. 27.

Traskal’s Sterling Heights arraignment was scheduled for Dec. 13, after press time. Traskal’s attorney, Raymond Correll, declined to comment.

Anyone who has more information about these alleged incidents is encouraged to contact the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office by calling (586) 469-5350.

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