Greg tibbet



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Description: Former Vicksburg principal Greg Tibbetts pleads guilty to sexually assaulting student, embezzling from school KALAMAZOO, MI – Seventeen months after Greg Tibbetts left his job as

Former Vicksburg principal Greg Tibbetts pleads guilty to sexually assaulting student, embezzling from school

KALAMAZOO, MI – Seventeen months after Greg Tibbetts left his job as principal of Vicksburg Middle School amid allegations he had an inappropriate relationship with a former student, he pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree criminal sexual conduct and misdemeanor embezzlement.

Immediately after entering his plea agreement in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court, Tibbetts was sentenced by Judge Pamela Lightvoet to 18 months to 15 years in prison and ordered to pay $15,896 in restitution to Vicksburg Community Schools.

Among those who spoke at Monday's hearing was the mother of the victim at the center of the sexual-abuse case.

"He destroyed not just my family but the entire community," the woman said between tears. "We've all been betrayed and destroyed."

The mother said she asked Tibbetts to be a mentor to her son, who was then a student at Vicksburg Middle School, and the two spent considerable time together.

In the fall of 2012, the boy's sister discovered what court documents described as "highly sexual" text messages on his cell phone from Tibbetts.

The mother contacted the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office, and the boy told a detective Tibbetts had given him alcohol and gifts over a two-year period, during which Tibbetts made overtures towards a sexual relationship.

In court Monday, Tibbetts told Lightvoet he was guilty of touching the boy's penis in the fall of 2011, when the boy was 14. Tibbetts answered, "Yes" when Lightvoet clarified that the touching was "for the purpose of sexual gratification" and "not an accident."

In exchange for his guilty plea to second-degree criminal sexual conduct, the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor's Office agreed to drop 12 other counts against Tibbetts related to the relationship, involving text message exchanges in fall 2012 as well an incident where Tibbetts allegedly performed a sex act during a late-night video-chat with the boy.

Tibbetts resigned as Vicksburg Middle School principal after his arrest in October 2012. After he left the district, administrators realized that Tibbetts had used a district credit card for private purchases totaling more than $15,000.

Tibbetts was initially charged with a felony count of embezzlement of between $1,000 and $20,000. As part of the plea agreement, that charge was knocked down to a misdemeanor of embezzlement between $200 and $1,000, although Tibbetts agreed to pay full restitution.

The prison sentence she imposed, she said, was only part of the story. "You've already sentenced two families – the victim's family and your family – to life," the judge said.

Tibbetts, 43, who has a wife and three children, did not make a statement in the courtroom, aside from answering the judge's questions.

His attorney, Michael Hills, called his client a "wonderful" school administrator and family man who was undone by antidepressants prescribed by his doctor.

"This case has been a powerful experience to me about the power of pharmaceuticals," Hills told Lightvoet. "Soon after he began taking these prescriptions, he began to show compulsive behavior.

"He was a man who had his life together," Hills said. "Then a month after taking these prescription drugs, the wheels came off."

Hills acknowledged the teen and his family are "absolutely victims in this case," but said Tibbetts and his family are victims, too. He added that Tibbetts "has expressed remorse many, many times."

The victim's mother said she worked in the health-care field and didn't buy the argument that Tibbetts couldn't control his behavior.

"There is no drug that would allow this to be acceptable," she said, her voice shaking. "Not only did he destroy my son's childhood, he destroyed our entire family.

"The ramifications will be forever with our family, especially with my son. This person should never be allowed around children again, ever."

The boy left Vicksburg High School after Tibbetts was arrested and is now talking online classes, his mother said.

After Monday's hearing, Kalamazoo County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Kanaby said he was satisfied with the resolution of the case. The plea agreement means the victim won't have to testify, and the teen got "affirmation" from Tibbetts that the inappropriate relationship occurred.

"It's the best resolution, especially for the victim," Kanaby said. "But it's not a question of being happy; there's devastation all around for the victim's family and the defendant's family."

Julie Mack covers K-12 education and writes a column for Kalamazoo Gazette. Email her at jmack1@mlive.com. call her at 269-350-0277 or follow her on Twitter at kzjuliemack.






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