Teacher to stand trial for student relationship 20 years ago

- A former Avondale high school teacher was ordered to stand trial for an alleged relationship he had with a student 20 years ago.

On Thursday his alleged victim told the court, saying she was motivated to come forward, thanks to the Me Too movement. 

The now 33-year-old woman whose identity we are not revealing testified about her alleged relationship with Aaron Donaghy. He will be standing trial after today's testimony on three counts of criminal sexual conduct.

"At the time, I thought it was love," she said. 

Back in 1999, the alleged victim was a 14-year-old freshman in the 28-year-old's earth science class at Avondale High School in Auburn Hills.

"It started just for the hour I was in his class and he was also the freshman coordinator for freshmen," she said. "I was on student council and classboard, so through the year it became more frequent with meetings and class, school organizations."

The alleged victim says she saw Donaghy as a mentor and she confided in him about her father's sudden death from a heart attack.

"It was a very emotional time for me, so he knew all of the struggles I was going through, trying to adjust," she said.

A few months into the school year -- the alleged victim's friend got sick. She says Donaghy volunteered to drive a group of students to children's hospital for a visit but when he picked her up at her house, no one else was in the car.

I said 'Did no one else decide to come? Any of the other members of student council?' and he said no, it's just us," she said.

The woman says the hospital visit led to dinner at Pizza Pappalis and then a stop at his apartment in Troy. She claims he told her to come in because it was too cold to stay in the car.

As she sat on his couch she says that's when Donaghy made a move.

"He asked me to close my eyes and he kissed me," she said. "He proceeded to tell me that he was in love with me, that he believed that people are brought into each other's lives for a reason, there was a reason I was put into his class and he was my teacher."

From then on, the woman says she had lunch in his classroom every day and it felt like they were in a relationship. Soon thereafter, she says Donaghy started planning her first sexual encounter.

"We had conversations about him wanting it to be special and romantic and conversations about whether or not I was scared," she testified. "There were candles, there was music."

The relationship progressed well into her sophomore year when the alleged victim decided to call it off, wanting to live a more normal life -- but was still afraid to tell anyone about it.

"No one's reaction would ever be what I wanted, which would be, yes, here's a platform for you to unload, so I just never did," she said.

That all changed in December of 2017 when the "Me Too" movement was in full swing.

"My niece was the same age as I was," she said. "Going into that same school, where he was still able to teach, and coach, and live. And there was no way I was going to let her go without saying."

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