Judge closes proceedings in Burley teacher sex abuse case

From the Twin Falls Times-News

BURLEY — A Cassia County judge has sealed a court case regarding child-sex charges levied against a suspended Burley teacher.

Fifth District Judge Michael Crabtree’s order will keep any further information about the case, including its outcome, under wraps and bar the public from the courtroom.

Michael S. Brinkerhoff, 42, was charged in August with felony sexual abuse of a child under 16 and enticing a child over the Internet after he allegedly pretended to be a teenage boy in order to have sexual conversations with a student.

Cassia County Prosecutor Al Barrus told the Times-News in mid-September that he planned to file a motion to have the case sealed in order to protect the female teenage victim.

Brinkerhoff waived his preliminary hearing in magistrate court Sept. 10, and the case was bound over to district court in front of Crabtree.

Barrus had also filed a motion to close the Sept. 10 hearing, which was granted by Magistrate Judge Rick Bollar.

Barrus said afterwards his effort to close the hearing was also made to protect the victim.

Brinkerhoff was suspended with pay by the Cassia County School District pending the outcome of the case. He was hired by the district in 2006 and had a previous record of misdemeanor petit theft charges in Bonneville County. District officials said a background check performed prior to his employment with the district failed to turn up the charges.

Brinkerhoff taught English and drama at Burley Junior High School and was charged after he allegedly pretended to be his own 15-year-old nephew in order to engage the young girl in sexual discussions.

According to court records, the victim’s mother allegedly turned over more than 1,000 pages of messages to law-enforcement officials that had allegedly been sent between the victim and Brinkerhoff. Many of the messages were graphic and sexual in nature.

From the Twin Falls Times-News

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