Former Amelia Earhart teacher gets 53 years for sexually abusing children

He will serve 44 consecutive years in prison, three years in community corrections, and six years supervised probation

Posted: Apr 5, 2019 7:37 PM
Updated: Apr 8, 2019 2:27 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Forty seven-year-old Joseph Kimerer Jr. will serve 53 years for sexually abusing eight boys, all between the ages of nine and 13. He pleaded guilty in February of this year.

As News 18 previously reported, he was a 4th grade teacher at Amelia Earhart Elementary, which is in the Lafayette School Corporation, as well as a baseball coach. LSC said it removed Kimerer from the classroom the day that Lafayette Police started their investigation back in February of 2018.

When Judge Steve Meyer handed down the sentence, Kimerer looked at his parents, then looked at the parents of the victims, then took off his tie and threw it on the defense table. People who were supporting both sides of the case could be heard crying in the courtroom.

First on the stand was Kimerer's mother. She testified that she and her husband, Joseph Kimerer Sr., came straight back to Lafayette from their home in Florida to help their son. She said they posted all of their son's $1 million bond out of love and loyalty. She and her husband both emphasized on the stand that their son should be judged based on his whole life and not this one "lapse in judgment."

Kimerer's defense pointed out that he had no criminal record up to this point, and that he had more than 15 previous "clean" years as an educator. They said he is going through counseling successfully, his health had suffered over the past 13 months, and that a lengthy sentence would have a toll on his children. His parents also mentioned how difficult it has been for them to see the case play out on social media, and that reading the comments of people who don't know the facts has been tough.

However, Kimerer's ex-wife wrote a letter to the court urging them to give him a long sentence in order to protect their children.

The grandmother of one of the victims took the stand at the request of the prosecutor’s office. She said that Kimerer "used his power" against the boys and "took away pure innocence." The mother of another victim said to Kimerer, "as a parent, you should know how it feels." Another mother called him a monster and hoped he would "rot in hell."

Kimerer defended himself saying he did not realize what he was doing was wrong. He said he was simply trying to educate the boys about puberty and how to deal with sexual urges. He said in a statement that the kids felt comfortable coming to him with these issues and did not feel comfortable talking to their parents. He also claimed that it was unsafe for his baseball players to learn to throw a curve ball before puberty because their arms were not fully developed, so he said he would inquire about the boy's developmental stage to gauge when they would be ready.

There is evidence that Kimerer gave these boys pornography, asked them to send pictures of their genitals, and of him giving lotion to boys so they could masturbate in the school bathrooms, including the faculty bathroom. There is also proof that he told the kids to delete their text message exchanges.

Kimerer said he did not intend harm and that there was no sexual gratification. The defense tried to make the argument that since Kimerer did not physically touch the boys, this was a "lesser" case of sexual abuse.

The defense recommended Kimerer serve 15 years.

However, Judge Meyer was not buying the defense's story. He said under Indiana law, Kimerer fully sexually abused his victims. He added that the psychological and emotional toll of sexual abuse outlasts the actions, whether there was touching or not. The prosecutor’s office also brought out LSC's employee handbook, which clearly states that if any student should approach a teacher about such sexual questions, that the teacher should always default to the parents.

Judge Meyer said he has one rule when it comes to adults and children: do no harm. He said that Kimerer "ruined the sport (baseball) by sexualizing it." He also said he ruined the trust the parents will have with future educators and adults in their kids’ lives, and that he ruined the kids' trust in adults as well.

Judge Meyer said, "How could you not know if it was appropriate to tell a child to go fondle themselves?"

Kimerer will serve 44 consecutive years in prison, three years in community corrections, and six years supervised probation.

News 18 talked with the parents who testified, they said they are happy with the outcome and think it is just. One said she wanted to thank Lafayette Police and the prosecutor's office for their hard work.

We did ask Kimerer's parents if they wanted to comment and they did not.

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