BETHEL -- A teacher in the small coastal village of Kwigillingok is in jail on one charge of first-degree sexual abuse, accused of having sex with a 15-year-old student in his classroom.
Michael Wier, 31, was arrested Thursday on a charge stemming from an incident one evening in mid-March, when another teacher walked into his locked classroom and found him with his shirt off, pulling up his shorts or sweatpants, according to a charging document filed in Bethel District Court.
Wier, who had taught at Kwigillingok School in Western Alaska for seven years, was put on paid administrative leave two weeks ago, as soon as the Lower Kuskokwim School District heard of the allegation, Superintendent Dan Walker said Friday.
"We put him on administrative leave immediately. Obviously we take that very seriously," Walker said.
The other teacher was concerned for the girl "because she had been lingering around Michael for the last couple of months," state trooper Joshua Trigg reported in the criminal complaint.
Alaska State Troopers were alerted to the concerns April 21 by the Bethel Office of Children's Services.
The other teacher, William Wilkinson, said he was at the school around 9:30 p.m. one night in mid-March when he noticed the light on in Wier's classroom, the complaint said.
He unlocked the door and went in to turn off the light. Then "he saw Michael get up from behind the desk with no shirt on, pulling his red or red checkered shorts or sweatpants on," the criminal complaint says.
Wier didn't come out from behind the desk. He was out of breath and sweating. The other teacher didn't see anyone else in the room. Both men were embarrassed, Wilkinson said.
On April 22, the girl was interviewed at the Bethel child advocacy center and "was very reluctant to talk about her relationship with her teacher Michael Wier," the complaint says. She talked about the incident when the other teacher walked in. She said that was the only time she and Wier had sex and said that it was consensual.
Wier was helping her with math and she kissed him unexpectedly, she said in her interview at the advocacy center. Before they had sex, Wier told her he was nervous about what they were doing, she said. He used a Trojan condom, the complaint says.
Wier declined to be interviewed by troopers until he had a lawyer. His home in Kwigillingok was searched. Authorities didn't find any red shorts or pants but did find Trojan condoms.
Wier was arrested Thursday and is being held initially on $50,000 bail plus a requirement for a third-party custodian.
He was one of seven teachers at Kwigillingok School and taught history, Alaska history and language arts for middle and high school students, Walker, the superintendent, said. District staff members and teachers are trained to report concerns, Walker said.
"In this case, that training kicked in," he said. "The system worked."
Five or six weeks passed from when the other teacher walked into Wier's classroom and when the incident was reported to troopers. Troopers didn't respond to questions on whether they had information on what was transpiring during that time. Walker declined to address it.
The district is evaluating what action to take next with Wier, Walker said.
In Alaska, it's considered first-degree sexual abuse of a minor for an adult to have sex with someone under age 16 if the adult is in a position of authority over the victim.
The last day of school in Kwigillingok is May 21.
The school serves about 115 students in a village of about 320 people that some people simply call "Kwig." It's on the western shore of Kuskokwim Bay on the edge of the Bering Sea, about 77 miles southwest of Bethel.
Reporter Megan Edge contributed from Anchorage.
Alaska Dispatch Publishing