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Teacher from Arlington Heights charged with sexual assault
By Lee Filas | Daily Herald Staff

Sarah L. Tolzien


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Published: 3/26/2009 10:07 AM | Updated: 3/27/2009 8:00 AM

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An Arlington Heights woman has been accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student she coached at a far South suburban high school, police say.

Sarah L. Tolzien, 24, a first-year English teacher and cross country coach at Rich South High School in Richton Park, has been charged with criminal sexual assault. She is accused of having two sexual encounters with the student last November, Richton Park police Sgt. Kenneth Arvin said Thursday.

The sexual activity occurred in Matteson Nov. 14 and 17 when Tolzien gave the student rides home, Arvin said.

Police said the student's parents contacted police Dec. 1 about the relationship that they believe began in October.

Tolzien was charged Tuesday following a five-month police investigation.

"The investigation took that long because of evidence gathering," Arvin said. He would not elaborate on what that evidence consisted.

Her bail was set at $10,000 Wednesday, and her next court hearing is scheduled April 15 in Markham.

Tolzien graduated from Hersey High School in 2002, where she was a member of the golf and water polo teams. No one answered the door at the Tolzien home in Arlington Heights on Thursday.

Howard Hunigan, the fourth year superintendent at Rich Township High School District 227, said Tolzien was in her first year of full-time teaching at the district after substitute teaching there for a year. He said Tolzien resigned in December after the allegations came to light. He said the district assisted police with the investigation.

"This is a deeply regrettable situation, but we worked with the police very closely and did everything legally we could as a district," he said.

Arvin dismisses critics who say that the relative closeness in age between Tolzien and the student might suggest the crime was not as serious.

"What if roles were reversed and this was a male teacher and a female student?" he said. "Just because this involves a male student doesn't mean the law is different."

Daily Herald staff writer Sheila Ahern contributed to this report.