South Aiken teacher arrested

A one-time South Aiken High School teacher of the year was arrested Friday on allegations he had an inappropriate relationship with a 15-year-old student, meeting the girl in secret on school property to kiss and touch her. Craig R. Kessler, 38, of Oxpens Road in Warrenville, is charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. Both are misdemeanors. However, police said the assault charge carries with it the possibility of 10 years in prison. The delinquency charge carries a maximum of three years in jail. Aiken Public Safety officers said they launched an investigation late last month at the request of the teen's mother, who gave investigators letters and notebooks that she had taken from her underage daughter. Aiken Public Safety Lt. David Turno said those documents would not be released to the public at this time. He said they are evidence being used in the investigation. Police have said they have evidence that the inappropriate relationship had been going on for at least a month when the teen's mother came forward with the accusations on Dec. 31. Arrest warrants allege that the teacher had been having an inappropriate relationship with the teen since at least Nov. 3, 2008, while they were at the high school. An English and broadcasting teacher, Kessler was selected as the school's 2006-07 teacher of the year. He had also been the school's yearbook adviser. Earlier this week, Kessler was placed on paid administrative leave due to concerns that had been raised by the parent, said Aiken County School Board attorney Bill Burkhalter. About 5 p.m. Friday, Kessler surrendered to police on the warrants that he learned had been issued for his arrest. He was booked at Aiken Public Safety and had a bond hearing. Police did not give his bond information. Contact Karen Daily at kdaily@aikenstandard.com