A retired teacher accused of molesting a foreign exchange student he hosted said he hopes his experience doesn’t stop others from welcoming exchange students into their homes.
Frank Swiderski, 69, of Eastlake, appeared Tuesday in Willoughby Municipal Court on charges of multiple sex offenses involving a teen-age male who began living with the suspect in August.
Swiderski remained in jail on $50,000 bond.
The never-married suspect, who taught foreign language and audiovisual classes at North High School in Eastlake before retiring 20 years ago, denied the allegations to news reporters after waiving his right to a preliminary hearing.
“There has never been any impropriety,” Swiderski said. “I hope other people will still take exchange students into their houses.”
Swiderski, a onetime Eastlake Chamber of Commerce “Man of the Year,” said he never even asked for the boy, who is now 18, to live with him.
“The family and the school who had him fell through,” he said, adding, “He was the one who chose me.”
Swiderski was arrested last week after the student asked a teacher if the suspect’s interactions with him were normal American customs.
The suspect said the alleged victim appeared happy the day before the allegations came out when the two enjoyed dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant.
“He’s a hard-working young man who does more than people realize,” said the suspect. “I tried to relieve his stress by taking him wherever he wanted to go.”
A Lake County grand jury must now decide whether there is enough evidence to indict Swiderski on eight counts of gross sexual imposition and one count of pandering obscenity involving a minor.
If convicted on all nine counts, he faces a maximum 131/2 years behind bars.
Meanwhile, Eastlake police said they are still talking to at least four other former exchange students from countries including Holland, Germany and Sweden who may have been molested by Swiderski.
The suspect has admitted on tape to being a predator of young children since 1968, Detective Chris Bowersock said.
“It’s an ongoing investigation, and the evidence will speak for itself,” Bowersock said.
However, Swiderski denied that he ever told police he has a history of inappropriate conduct with minors.
Swiderski, who was also involved in Boy Scouts and was under contract as a news correspondent for The Plain Dealer before the arrest, remained in jail Tuesday on $50,000 bond.
“We don’t think he’s a flight risk,” Eastlake City Prosecutor Judd Hawkins said.
As a condition of allowing the suspect to be released if he posts 10 percent of the bond, Judge Larry Allen ordered Swiderski to turn in his passport and not go near schools or minors – especially the alleged victim.
Swiderski’s attorney, Paul H. Hentemann, said the suspect will have no problem abiding by those restrictions.
“We recognize that this is a sensitive case,” Hentemann said. “My client will mind his own business and have nothing to do with anyone under the age of 18.”
2005-Ohio-6705, State v. Swiderski