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Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)
A Coeur d'Alene Charter Academy administrator is accused of having sex with a Bonner County teenager after previously being investigated for kissing the same teenager at school.
Nichole Noel Thiel, the vice principal and athletic director at the Coeur d'Alene Charter Academy, is charged with felony sexual battery.
Sandpoint police say Thiel had sex with a male student at a condominium in Sandpoint in December 2015, when she was 46 and the student was 16. The teen told a school counselor in December 2016, believing the counselor wouldn't tell anyone, according to the Bonner County Daily Bee. That report triggered an investigation by Sandpoint police, the newspaper said.
Thiel had already been the focus of a previous investigation for allegedly kissing the boy the previous year.
According to the boy, Thiel was upset and crying at school. The boy hugged her to try and comfort her, and she kissed him on the cheek, according to court documents.
The boy helped Thiel install Facebook Messenger on her phone so the two could communicate, according to court documents. Sometime during Christmas break in 2015 Thiel picked up the boy from his father's home and took him to her condominium where the two had sex.
At the time Thiel was the teen's culinary arts teacher at Lake Pend Oreille High School. According to court documents the two were friendly to each other after the encounter but did not have sex again.
The boy's mother told investigators she was told the situation was "handled" and that the teacher was no longer working at the school, according to court documents. Thiel left the school district in June 2016, the Bonner County Daily Bee reported.
Thiel declined to be questioned by police. Her attorney, Michael G. Palmer, said Wednesday he can't comment on the matter, according to the Associated Press.
In an email and Facebook post sent Thursday morning, Coeur d'Alene Charter Academy Principal Dan Nicklay wrote, "I understand that some may feel blindsided by the revelation of this news, but we were advised by our attorney to remove Mrs. Thiel from the school setting and not share any details until and unless charges were officially filed."
Charges were filed in Bonner County on Jan. 19.
Thiel was the recipient of a Fulbright-Hays fellowship in 2006 when she was a teacher at Lake City High School.
According to the letter sent to parents at Coeur d'Alene Charter Academy, the school was "not made aware of anything that would have influenced our eventual hiring decision. It is also very important for you to know that we took immediate measures upon learning of the accusations."
The letter also emphasized that the alleged assault occurred before Thiel was hired at the Charter Academy.
The Associated Press and the Bonner County Daily Bee contributed to this report.
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