Police say teacher 'wed' 14-year-old girl in pagan ritual

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Cory Olsen / The Grand Rapids Press

Elizabeth Miklosovic is escorted to a detective's car after her arraignment at District Court in South Haven, Mich. Miklosovic was charged with first-degree criminal-sexual conduct, a potential life offense.

Associated Press

SOUTH HAVEN -- A teacher and a 14-year-old former female student whom she is accused of sexually assaulting participated in witchcraft together and even "wed" in a pagan ritual, police said.

Elizabeth Miklosovic, 36, a teacher at South Haven's Baseline Middle School, was arraigned Thursday on a charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Van Buren County.

If convicted, Miklosovic faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. She was ordered held on $100,000 bond and remained in the county jail Friday.

Also Thursday, the Kent County prosecutor's office issued arrest warrants for Miklosovic on charges of first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct that accuse her of performing illegal sex acts with the student at the teacher's Grand Rapids home.

Miklosovic lives with another woman and their adopted son, authorities said.

The student told a classmate about the relationship and the classmate told school officials, who placed the seventh-grade language arts teacher on leave from her job. Miklosovic has worked for South Haven Public Schools for three years.

John Weiss, principal of the middle school, said he was surprised to learn about the charges. School administrators and counselors met with students and other teachers throughout the day Thursday.

"There have been a wide variety of reactions," he told The Herald-Palladium of St. Joseph. "There are 550 students and 550 reactions, it seems."

The student told Michigan State Police that she and Miklosovic had about five sexual encounters from June to October in the teacher's home, a park in Van Buren County and a state park in Manistee County.

Although the girl was in Miklosovic's class in the past, the sexual contact did not occur until this year, authorities said.

Miklosovic has no previous criminal record in Michigan, state police records show.

She declined to answer reporters' questions after her arraignment.

James Becker has been appointed as Miklosovic's attorney. Contacted Friday at his Paw Paw law office, Becker declined to comment about the case, saying he had not yet seen the police report.

The girl's family said Miklosovic brainwashed the girl into thinking the two did nothing wrong. A relative told The Grand Rapids Press that the family initially believed Miklosovic's interest in the girl -- who was described as vulnerable and as having emotional problems -- was to help her.

Detective Sgt. Diane Oppenheim of the state police post in South Haven said the student came to trust the teacher so much, she agreed to "marry" the woman in a pagan ritual.

"They also participated in witchcraft together," Oppenheim said.

Miklosovic's preliminary examination on the Van Buren County charge is scheduled for Dec. 13.