by Laura Misjak
Two teens said texts and messages through Facebook and another social media site led to sexual relationships with their Grand Ledge High School teacher nearly two years ago.
The teens both testified Monday in Eaton County Circuit Court, the first day of Jason Algra’s trial. It is expected to last through the week.
Algra, 34, a science teacher and swim coach, faces three first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges and five second-degree criminal sexual conduct charges in connection with the alleged relationships.
He is now on unpaid suspension from the district, officials said.
Frank Reynolds, Algra’s attorney, said during opening statements that witnesses will testify Algra was elsewhere when some of the alleged sex acts took place.
“During the course of this trial, you will learn Mr. Algra was with people who will come in and testify he couldn’t have been where (one of the victims) says he was,” Reynolds said.
The first student, who is now 19, said Algra messaged him through Facebook to set up swim dates during spring break at the school pool in 2011, when he was 17.
He said the two met up each morning of spring break to swim in the pool, and began having sex on Wednesday of that week while in the locker room.
The State Journal does not identify alleged victims of sexual crimes.
Their sexual relationship continued through about September, with meet-ups at least once every other week at several locations, including a Delta Township florist’s parking lot, Algra’s apartment, his school classroom and an Ingham County park, the teen said. He also described at least one sexual encounter with Algra and his boyfriend.
The relationship ended in September or October 2011, when allegations from the younger teen were reported, he said.
The older teen also said he has contacted an attorney about filing a civil suit against Algra for costs related to medical tests and counseling, though a lawsuit has not been filed.
“It’s made me not like people just because of all the people that came to his defense,” the older teen said when asked how the incident has affected him.
The younger teen described three incidents involving Algra that began in the summer of 2011, when he was 15.
He said he and Algra communicated frequently before the acts occurred via text and on Facebook.
The two also made contact through a dating website, where Algra, whose screen name was “gljock” sent the student a photo of his genitals.
The teen testified sexual acts occurred twice at the teen’s apartment and once in a church lot near his apartment.
The teens also testified that they knew each other but were not friends at school, and did not discuss details of the incidents’ with each other.
They both said they did not want the relationship to become known to school officials, or anyone else.
Algra was placed on administrative leave after officials were made aware in October 2011 of allegations from the younger student, who told friends.
A student told a teacher, which led to a criminal investigation.
This article was written by Laura Misjak and originally published on lansingstatejournal