WOOSTER — Rod Ferrell, the former Northwestern High School teacher who engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a student and violated a protection order that barred him from contacting the 17-year-old, pleaded no contest on Tuesday to eight counts of sexual battery, charges that stemmed from his relationship with the girl.

Wayne County Common Pleas Judge Corey E. Spitler then found Ferrell guilty on those eight counts, all third-degree felonies. Spitler ordered a pre-sentence investigation, and set Ferrell’s sentencing for July 31.

Ferrell was indicted in late February on 34 counts of sexual battery. The indictment alleged that Ferrell, 54, engaged in sexual conduct with the girl on 17 different occasions between May 1 and Aug. 25, 2018. In exchange for Ferrell’s no contest pleas, prosecutors dropped the 26 other charges.

Ferrell now faces up to one to five years in prison, and a maximum $10,000 fine, on each of the eight counts to which he pleaded no contest. Prosecutors are recommending a 10-year prison sentence, followed by a mandatory five years probation. Ferrell also must register as a tier III sex offender.

Ferrell’s lawyer, Akron-based defense attorney Peter Cahoon, declined to comment after the hearing Tuesday morning.

In a separate case, Ferrell last December pleaded no contest to violating a civil protection order that prohibited him from contacting the girl and her family. He received a 100-day jail sentence in that case, along with two years probation, a $750 fine and 100 hours of community service.

In the affidavit for that civil protection order, which Ferrell signed last October, the girl’s mother wrote that she filed the order to keep her daughter “safe physically and free from harassment” while the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office investigated the criminal allegations against Ferrell.

Ferrell violated the protection order three weeks after signing it when he met with the girl late on Oct. 25 in a parking lot adjacent to the Ray Crow Cleaners, located at 150 N. Grant St. The girl’s mother told Wooster police that she found Ferrell and her daughter sitting together in Ferrell’s truck in the parking lot.

Ferrell resigned from his position as a wood tech teacher on Sept. 4, 2018, after 26 years with the Northwestern district. Jeffrey Layton, superintendent of the district, accepted Ferrell’s “resignation for the purposes of retirement,” Layton said in an email in September 2018.

Before his resignation, Ferrell was placed on paid “home assignment” beginning Aug. 31 after the school district was “made aware of allegations ... regarding the possible inappropriate involvement with a student,” Layton said.

After the hearing Tuesday morning, Spitler continued Ferrell’s bond. Ferrell has been out of jail since posting the necessary 10 percent of a $50,000 appearance bond on April 18, court records show.

 

Reporter Jack Rooney can be reached at 330-287-1645 or jrooney@the-daily-record.com. He is on Twitter at twitter.com/RooneyReports. Reporter Linda Hall contributed to this story.