Benjamin Klafczynski, right, a former teacher at Wadsworth High School, was convicted Friday of tampering with evidence in Medina County Common Pleas Court. His defense team is Richard J. Perez, left, and Hector G. Martinez. BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE
MEDINA — A former Wadsworth High School teacher was convicted of tampering with evidence Friday in Medina County Common Pleas Court.
Benjamin Klafczynski, 29, of 4400 block of Beach Road, Medina, was found not guilty of two other counts brought against him: illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material, a second-degree felony, and sexual imposition, a third-degree misdemeanor.
The jury deliberated for about two hours before arriving at its verdict.
He was facing charges because of alleged inappropriate behavior over social media with a then 16-year-old female junior at Wadsworth High. The two were accused of sending explicit photos over Snapchat.
Klafczynski was found guilty because he deleted the Snapchat app on his phone.
“The jury held him accountable (on the tampering charge),” Medina County Prosecutor S. Forrest Thompson said.
“I’m satisfied with the jury’s verdict.”
Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier remanded Klafczynski to Medina County Jail and said the sentencing would take place in about six weeks.
Defense attorney Richard J. Perez said he may file a motion for bond for Klafczynski as he awaits sentencing.
The third-degree felony could draw a sentence of nine to 36 months. He also could be fined as much as $15,000.
The four-day trial ended Friday with closing arguments by the prosecution and defense.
Since the prosecution didn’t have the photo allegedly sent to the student, Thompson said he knew it was going to be difficult to convict Klafczynski on the illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.
“We explained why (we didn’t have the photo in the trial),” Thompson said after the verdict. “The jury’s message was that it was deleted.”
Assistant Prosecutor Michael McNamara emphasized in his closing arguments that Klafczynski wasn’t accused of taking a nude picture of the girl.
“But he directed her to take it,” he said. “He asked her to do that.”
The defense team also was satisfied with the verdict.
“I’m very pleased they made the decision they did in the two not-guilty counts,” Perez said. “Other than that, I don’t have any comment.”
Hector G. Martinez, co-counsel for the defense, said Klafczynski didn’t commit any of the allegations of which he was accused.
He said Wadsworth police took the girl’s words as “gospel.”
“She is alleging sexual assault,” Martinez said. “There are occasions when women fabricate sexual assaults. It’s our opinion (she) is not a credible witness.”
The sexual imposition charge stemmed from allegations that Klafczynski touched the girl on the upper thigh in class Nov. 23, 2016. Defense attorney Hector G. Martinez said in his closing arguments that there were 25 students in the classroom and no one said that anything was amiss.
“No one saw anything,” Martinez said.
McNamara alleged in his closing argument that Klafczynski had an ulterior motive.
“He looked at her as an object of sexual gratification,” he said. “What was his purpose of touching a very private region on her body? It was right next to her genitals.”
McNamara presented 14 pages of text messages between the former teacher and the girl in which they flirted.
McNamara called Klafczynski a “manipulator” and said the former teacher first told the student she was pretty.
“This was a 16-year-old girl who looked up to this guy and didn’t know what to do,” McNamara said.
Once the allegations surfaced on Dec. 6, 2016, Klafczynski’s wife, Stacy Wilson, testified Thursday that she moved out immediately. The couple divorced in May of this year.
Martinez admitted that his client made mistakes.
“He knows he screwed up,” he said. “He flirted with a student. He has been punished. He lost his job. He lost his marriage.
“How can you convict someone and there’s no photograph?”
Photos, videos and texts shared via the Snapchat app can disappear from the recipient’s phone after a few seconds
Klafczynski, a former baseball star at Highland High School and Kent State University, was drafted by the Chicago Cubs. He played minor league baseball for the Boston Red Sox farm system.
Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.