The trial of a former Columbus chess teacher accused of touching two of his students inappropriately begins today in Delaware County Common Pleas Court.
Freddy Leon Wilson, 62, of 2785 Castlewood Road, Columbus, is charged with three counts of gross sexual imposition, which are third-degree felonies. Prosecutors say Wilson, a former chess instructor at the Prep Academy School’s Polaris campus, touched two students inappropriately during lessons.
Prosecutors estimate the jury trial will take three days.
Wilson has pleaded not guilty to the charges, each of which carry a school-zone specification that would add two years of prison on each charge to a prison sentence, if Wilson is convicted.
Prosecutors allege Wilson touched two students, who were ages 4 and 7 at the time, during chess lessons last year. The offenses are alleged to have occurred in both Delaware and Franklin counties.
Wilson was scheduled to stand trial on Oct. 6, 2015, but agreed to change his plea the week before. However, at the change-of-plea hearing, Wilson told Judge Everett Krueger that he never wanted to take the deal and had “lost total confidence” in his then-attorney, Diane Menashe.
Menashe told Krueger the details of the rejected plea deal, which involved Wilson pleading guilty to three counts of attempted gross sexual imposition. Assistant prosecuting attorney Douglas Dumolt said the deal would have removed the legal requirement of prison time but said the prosecutor’s office would still recommend prison.
Menashe said Wilson had asked her to work out a deal in which both the defense and the prosecution would jointly recommend probation instead of prison time. Menashe said Wilson’s request was unrealistic and the deal she worked out with Dumolt was the best arrangement possible.
Krueger said it was clear that scheduling a change of plea and then firing Menashe on the day his trial was set to begin was a deliberate move to allow Wilson to postpone the trial after Krueger denied a motion to continue it in September.
Krueger said Wilson had left the court no choice but to continue the trial to February
After the trial was continued, Wilson retained the services of Eric Willison and Bradley Koffel to defend him in court.
Wilson was arrested on April 23, 2015, at the Columbus airport when he returned from a chess tournament in Greece.
Wilson is the second teacher accused of sexually abusing his students to go to trial in Delaware County Common Pleas Court this year.
Matthew Rausenberg, a former teacher at Olentangy Local Schools’ Arrowhead Elementary, was found guilty on 41 charges related to inappropriately touching students and was sentenced to 109 years to life in prison. He began serving his sentence at the end of January.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.