LAKEWOOD, Ohio — A social studies teacher at St. Edward High School in Lakewood was arrested and is accused of sending an online message to an undercover agent he thought was a minor in an attempt to engage in sexual conduct.
The teacher, Patrick DeChant, 33, was placed on suspension following his arrest, St. Edward High School Principal K.C. McKenna said.
According to Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas records, DeChant is charged with attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, importuning and possessing criminal tools.
Court documents state that Dechant allegedly had a conversation with a person he thought was a 15-year-old boy that was actually an undercover agent with the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (OICAC).
DeChant allegedly "engaged in an online conversation with what he believed was a 15-year-old minor male child and then attempted to engage in sexual conduct with another, knowing that this other person was a minor child, by traveling to a physical location within Cuyahoga County for the purpose of engaging in this sexual conduct," according to court records.
The OICAC posted to Facebook an image of DeChant in handcuffs, being escorted by an agent with the OICAC.
The school released the following statement regarding DeChant:
"Yesterday, we learned that Patrick DeChant, a member of our Social Studies faculty, was arrested on multiple criminal charges. As a result, Mr. DeChant has been suspended and instructed to have no contact with students or anyone else in the St. Edward High School community. We have informed our faculty, staff and parents about these charges. According to authorities, these charges do not involve any St. Edward students.
Mr. DeChant joined our faculty in 2015. As is our policy, we conducted a background check before he was hired, and no issues were reported.
We take very seriously our responsibility to create a safe environment for everyone in our community, especially our students. These are very troubling allegations, and we will cooperate fully with the criminal investigation.
We will trust the criminal justice system to handle the investigation, while reminding our students how important it is to tell a trusted adult anytime they have concerns about another's behavior. Meanwhile, we are praying for everyone involved."
DeChant was released after posting bail, according to court records.
He is scheduled to appear in court for an arraignment on Oct. 7, court records state.