WHEELING, W.Va. — A former teacher for Ohio County Schools was arraigned Wednesday in Ohio County Magistrate Court on a felony sexual abuse charge.
Elizabeth Harbert, former teacher at Wheeling Park High School and Bridge Street Middle School in Wheeling, was charged with sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, custodian or a person of trust to a child after an investigation by the West Virginia State Police.
The criminal complaint states, “The undersigned officer has sustained while the victim was under the age of sixteen, he engaged in sexual intercourse with the accused when the accused was acting as his custodian, guardian and/or a person in a position of trust in Ohio County.”
This is related to a civil suit filed by Christopher Birch, 28, a former student of Harbert’s, that claims he was sexually and mentally abused by Harbert starting in 2005 when he was 14 years old and living with her after moving out of his grandmother’s house.
According to the criminal complaint, Birch claims that he and Harbert, 30 years old in 2005, had sex at least 50 times at the residence while her husband was at work.
Birch lived with Harbert for about one year at this time, the complaint stated.
Birch then moved back to his grandmother’s house in 2006 when he was 15 years old, and said Harbert and himself had sex another 50 times at his grandmother’s house before Birch moved back in with Harbert later that year.
In 2007, Birch, who was then 16 years old, conceived a child with Harbert, according to the criminal complaint.
At this time, Birch was a student at Wheeling Park High School and Harbert was a teacher there.
The criminal complaint says the two first met at Bridge Street Middle School when she was his track coach.
Harbert divorced her husband in 2006 and according to Birch’s lawsuit, Birch and Harbert had four children together beginning with a child born in the summer of 2008 which was conceived in 2007.
The criminal complaint states that a DNA test was performed by the Marshall University Forensic Science Center and stated, “Christopher Lee Birch cannot be excluded as the biological father based on the presence of the obligate paternal allele at these systems.” The report also said the relative probability of paternity was over 99.9 percent.
The entire case has been detailed by West Virginia Record.
Harbert claims that Birch physically and emotionally abused her for years, in a statement released by her attorney, according to The Intelligencer.
She was arraigned Wednesday before Ohio County Magistrate Patty Murphy and posted $10,000 bond.
Sgt. R. M. Hogan handled the investigation for the WVSP and was not available for comment on Wednesday.