Fittest loser
Article updated: 5/21/2013 7:30 PM

Grayslake District 46 teacher admits leaving obscene message for board member

Christopher Culp

Christopher Culp

 
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A Grayslake Elementary District 46 substitute teacher was sentenced to 18 months of court supervision after striking a plea deal in a case stemming from the telephone harassment of a school board member while instructors were on strike.

Christopher Culp, 43, of the 600 block of South Rose Hall Lane in Round Lake, admitted to one count of misdemeanor disorderly conduct for the deal he entered into Tuesday in Lake County circuit court.

Lake County state's attorney's office spokeswoman Cynthia Trujillo Vargas said Culp also was ordered to perform 25 public service hours and not have any contact with the family of Shannon Smigielski, who resigned her District 46 board seat in March.

"One of our priorities is to keep victims safe," Vargas said. "At the end of this particular case, we feel that we have reached a decision that is safe for all parties involved."

Neither Culp nor his lawyer returned calls seeking comment.

Smigielski was a District 46 board member when she reported to Grayslake police the obscenity-laced message she received about 11:45 p.m. Jan. 19 after the third day of the strike. Smigielski resigned her school board seat March 3, in part because of what she said was the emotional distress and fear that resulted from the harassment authorities accuse Culp of committing.

Using a menacing tone, a man could be heard on the recording saying he wanted the teachers strike settled, called Smigielski a liar and claimed he "would really hate to see what happens" to her daughters at school when he directs his children to taunt them. Smigielski said she learned Culp taught at one of her daughter's schools.

Because her caller ID listed the originating number as "private," Grayslake police obtained a subpoena for her AT&T records. Authorities said the message came from a landline traced to Culp's home address.

Smigielski issued a statement after the plea bargain, saying she hopes it concludes a "very sad situation." She said she took Culp's message as a direct threat to her children and family.

"It is most unfortunate that the labor dispute resulted in Mr. Culp calling my home, but I am confident that my family and I can put this incident behind us and move forward," Smigielski said.

Smigielski became active in District 46 affairs before she was elected to a 4-year term in 2011 on a platform that included a need for ethical and attentive public servants, fiscal responsibility and transparency. School board member Karen Weinert, who didn't seek re-election to her seat in April, was appointed to complete the last two years of Smigielski's term.

Culp had faced a maximum punishment of six month behind bars and $1,500 in fines.

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