NORRISTOWN — Saying parents need to feel secure that their children are protected when they are in school, a judge sent a former Latin teacher at Abington High School to jail for having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a female student.
“He broke that trust. He violated a duty of care to a minor. He’s an intelligent person. He knew that this was wrong,” Montgomery County Judge William R. Carpenter said on Tuesday as he sentenced Thomas Howard Kummer Jr., 56, to 11½-to-23-months in the county jail on felony charges of corruption of a minor and institutional sex assault in connection with incidents that occurred between July and September 2018.
Carpenter also ordered Kummer to complete five years’ probation following parole, meaning Kummer will be under court supervision for about seven years. Kummer also must complete 100 hours of community service and is prohibited from contacting the victim and her family.
VIDEO: Thomas Kummer Jr., a former Latin teacher at #Abington High School, is escorted from #MontcoPa Courtroom to begin serving 11.5-to-23 month Jail sentence for having sexual relationship with an underage female student. pic.twitter.com/9yCekx3n5y— Carl Hessler Jr. (@MontcoCourtNews) September 10, 2019
Kummer showed no reaction to the sentence in the courtroom but rolled his eyes when asked by a reporter for a reaction as he was escorted from the courtroom by sheriff’s deputies to begin his stint in jail.
Kummer, who at the time of his arrest lived in the 400 block of Krewson Terrace in the Willow Grove section of the township, pleaded guilty to the charges earlier this year.
The girl was 17 years old at the time of the sexual contact. Kummer had been a Latin teacher at the high school for more than 20 years.
“I’d like to take full responsibility for my actions,” Kummer told the judge before learning his fate, apologizing to the victim and the Abington High School community. “I feel like I let them all down terribly.”
Assistant District Attorney Bridget Gallagher argued for a state prison term against Kummer.
Ex-#Abington HS teacher Thomas Kummer Jr. rolled his eyes when asked by a reporter for a reaction to his sentence as he was escorted from #MontcoPa courtroom by sheriff’s deputies to begin his 11.5-to-23-month jail term.Convicted of having sexual contact with female student pic.twitter.com/LzMv679eDw— Carl Hessler Jr. (@MontcoCourtNews) September 10, 2019
“It was clear that he abused his position of power and trust within the Abington High School community to manipulate vulnerable teenage girls and he used that to satisfy his own sexual gratification,” Gallagher argued.
“I think that any period of incarceration will affect this defendant and hopefully show him that the trust that he used and abused in the community did not go unnoticed,” added Gallagher. “We hope that message is sent with the sentence.”
Gallagher and co-prosecutor Alexandria MacMaster presented the judge with a letter from a second, former female student who alleged Kummer had inappropriate contact with her as well. Kummer was never charged in connection with incidents involving the second female as the allegations were made long after the statute of limitations for the offenses had expired, according to testimony. The second woman came forward after Kummer’s arrest.
Kummer reportedly most recently resided with his parents in Phoenixville. Kummer’s mother, Janice Evans, testified her son suffered from a borderline personality disorder, lost his profession and is remorseful.
“He broke that trust. He violated a duty of care to a minor. He’s an intelligent person. He knew that this was wrong,” #MontcoPa Judge William R. Carpenter said as he sent ex-#Abington HS teacher Thomas Kummer Jr., 56, to jail for having sexual relationship with student.Kummer pic.twitter.com/zib3ujBA5r— Carl Hessler Jr. (@MontcoCourtNews) September 10, 2019
“He was devastated by what he had done. He said, ‘I can’t believe I’ve done this and put everyone through this,’” Janice Evans told the judge.
Other friends and family testified Kummer was “trustworthy and dependable” and “fully invested” in a behavioral therapy program he had recently entered.
Defense lawyer Marc Neff argued for a probationary sentence for Kummer.
“Thirty years of teaching is all but forgotten now. This one incident will be his legacy and that’s unfortunate because he was a good teacher. He changed the lives of many, many students for the good. He will never go back to teaching,” Neff argued.
An investigation of Kummer began on Sept. 26, 2018, after police received a report from “a concerned citizen” that Kummer was involved in a sexual relationship with a student under age 18, according a criminal complaint filed by Abington Detective Cindy Pettinato.
The girl was 17 at the time of the sexual contact. Thomas Kummer was a Latin teacher at the high school for 20 yrs.“I’d like to take full responsibility for my actions,” Kummer told the judge before learning his fate, apologizing to the victim & Abington High School community— Carl Hessler Jr. (@MontcoCourtNews) September 10, 2019
Kummer had been a chaperone during a June trip to Italy, which the student attended, court papers indicate.
A subsequent search of the teenage girl’s phone and computer showed 290 messages between Kummer and the student.
“A great deal of these messages are romantic in nature and reference the two spending the night together,” Pettinato alleged in the arrest affidavit.
During an interview by police, the girl said she and Kummer drank alcohol together during the Italy trip and began texting each other daily in July, according to court papers.
In the text messages Kummer allegedly wrote to the girl, “I’ve fallen in love with you” and “I think you should move in with me” and “We need to pick our steps, we need to protect ourselves,” according to the arrest affidavit.
The girl told detectives that she and Kummer began to have a personal intimate relationship.
The sexual contact with Kummer occurred on at least 10 occasions, primarily at his Willow Grove residence, where they sometimes drank beer together, according to the criminal complaint. On at least five occasions the girl stayed overnight at Kummer’s residence, detectives alleged.
The victim also reported sending Kummer a photo of herself in a bra, according to the criminal complaint.
When Kummer learned Sept. 30 that investigators had taken the student’s phone and laptop, he asked the victim if the messages between them had been deleted and indicated he was “completely freaked out” and was considering fleeing. He had previously told the girl, “I always have 2 emergency tickets to the Caribbean” and said he wanted to be on a plane with her, according to court documents.