BURLEY, Idaho (AP) _ A junior high teacher has been jailed for allegedly pretending to be a 15-year-old boy and engaging in sexually explicit online conversations with a 14-year-old student.
Michael S. Brinkerhoff, 42, is being held at the Mini-Cassia Criminal Justice Center on a $50,000 bail.
He faces felony charges of sexual abuse of a minor under the age of 16, as well as enticing children over the Internet. Prosecutors alleged that Brinkerhoff, who taught English and drama, told the girl that his nephew was moving to Burley from Arizona and that he wanted to introduce the boy to some area teens via Facebook.
They claimed he posed as the fictitious boy. The girl's parents contacted police after they became suspicious of an Internet relationship involving their daughter. According to court records, the girl's mother gave police 1,000 pages of messages that were sent between her daughter and the fictitious boy, many of which were graphic and sexual in nature.
Superintendent Gaylen Smyer said Brinkerhoff, who was hired in 2006, has been suspended with pay.
It was the second case involving a Burley teacher and allegations of sex crimes with students. Former Burley High School teacher Chad Burnett was sentenced Tuesday to 12 years in prison for entering into a sexual relationship with an underage female student.
Smyer said the school district has procedures in place to screen potential employees.
“All new hires must be fingerprinted, and the fingerprints are checked through the FBI to determine whether the individual has a criminal record,'' Smyer told the Times-News.
Court records show that Brinkerhoff had a criminal record when he was hired to teach, pleading guilty to three misdemeanor petite theft charges in Idaho.
Brinkerhoff was arrested last week, and was scheduled for a preliminary hearing Sept. 10.
Pictured Above: Michael S. Brinkerhoff