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Justices to review teacher’s explicit messages to student

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A Starke County teacher who was charged with sending sexually explicit Facebook messages to a 16-year-old student will have to face the Indiana Supreme Court, which will review the Court of Appeals’ order to dismiss the counts.

Robert Corbin was charged with two counts of attempted child seduction that were dismissed on appeal by the COA. Judge Paul Mathias wrote for the panel in Robert Corbin v. State of Indiana, 75S03-1401-CR-13, that while Corbin’s behavior toward the student was “deplorable and immoral,” he had not taken the substantial step toward the crime that the statute requires.

Corbin was a teacher and swim coach at Knox High School in northwest Indiana when he sent messages of a sexual nature to the student. A relative discovered the messages and alerted police, who interviewed Corbin. He was charged with two Class D felonies under I.C. 35-41-5-1, 35-42-4-7(k)(1) and 35-42-4-7(k)(2)(A)(ii).

The trial court refused to dismiss the charges in which authorities said Corbin took the substantial step toward the crime by asking the student to sneak out of her house, after which he would pick her up.

Relying on Ward v. State, 528 N.E.2d 52, 55 (Ind. 1988), Mathias wrote, “we are constrained to conclude that Corbin’s Internet-based solicitations ...  did not constitute a substantial step toward the crime of child seduction.”

The Corbin case was one of three granted transfer for the week ending Jan. 10.

Justices also agreed to grant transfer to an appeal in a case where a juror who admitted bias was not struck by the court, and a defense attorney chose not to send the potential juror home with a final peremptory strike.

In Gary Wayne Oswalt v. State of Indiana, 35S02-1401-CR-10, Gary Wayne Oswalt appeals his convictions and 84-year sentence on two charges of Class A felony child molesting, five Class D felony counts of possession of child pornography and Class D felony child seduction.

The court also agreed to hear an appeal of a not-for-publication opinion, Curtis F. Sample, Jr. v. State of Indiana, 45S03-1401-CR-11. Curtis Sample’s convictions of Class A felony attempted murder and Class B felony criminal confinement were previously affirmed by the high court, but his habitual offender finding was remanded for a new hearing.

Sample again was found to be a habitual offender, affirmed by the appeals court which found the trial court didn’t commit reversible error when it allowed prosecution witnesses to testify that a victim of two predicate offenses was mentally infirm.  

The Supreme Court also denied 24 transfer requests. The court transfer disposition list may be viewed here.

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