Former teacher seeking early release

Ex-Warren Harding employee convicted of sexual battery

WARREN — A hearing is scheduled this morning for a former Warren G. Harding High School special education teacher convicted of the sexual battery of a special needs student in one the school’s classrooms to consider his petition for an early release from his 18-month prison sentence.

Eric Kline, 26, is being held in the Richland Correctional Institution, where he is scheduled to be released in April 2020, according to Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction records.

He was convicted by a Trumbull County Common Pleas Court jury on one felony charge of sexual battery in October and was sentenced by Judge Ronald J. Rice to the 18-month prison sentence, according to court records.

Kline had sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl in a Harding classroom and used Snapchat to communicate with the girl. The encounter left the victim with anxiety attacks, according to statements made at Kline’s sentencing.

Kline apologized when he was sentenced.

In March, Judge Rice rejected Kline’s first motion for judicial release.

On May 6, he filed another motion for judicial early release, requesting a suspension for the remainder of his sentence, the motion states.

Prosecutors filed a motion in opposition.

Kline, “an intervention specialist at Warren G. Harding High School, used his position and employment to prey upon one of his own students, a 10th-grader and special education student,” at the school, the state’s opposition filing states.

Kline told the victim to leave her U.S. history class and meet him in another room where he pulled out his penis, according to the filing submitted by Diane Barber, Trumbull County assistant prosecutor.

The former teacher “took advantage of a student with a learning disability and abused his position of authority by engaging in sexual conduct with her,” the filing states.

Barber states Kline felt remorse only after he was separated from his family, but the effects on the victim have created struggles and difficulties for her. Kline has only served a third of his sentence and the state wants him to complete the entire sentence, Barber’s filing states.

As a Tier III sex offender, Kline will have to register with the county sheriff’s department anytime he moves for the rest of his life.

He has an appeal pending before the 11th District Court of Appeals, according to court documents.