Former teacher turns self in to police in sex crimes case

Andrew Cowells

GOSHEN — A former Concord High School teacher, charged with more than a dozen sex crimes counts, plans to argue for an insanity defense in his case.

A hearing was held in the case of Andrew Cowells, Elkhart, in Elkhart County Superior Court 3 on Thursday. The 47-year-old’s attorney, Marielena Duerring, updated the court that she has filed a notice to pursue an insanity defense at trial. Duerring indicated she also plans to file a severance motion in the case.

Cowells currently faces 18 criminal charges, including felony counts of possession of child pornography, vicarious sexual gratification and child solicitation, as well as misdemeanor counts of voyeurism, battery and harassment.

Several Concord students accused Cowells of behaving inappropriately in a classroom and in a bathroom, apparently stemming from discussions on sex topics on May 5. He was also accused of touching students inappropriately and encouraging certain touching. As the allegations were investigated, police at the school system said images of child pornography were found on Cowells’ phone.

During Thursday’s hearing, Judge Teresa Cataldo postponed Cowells’ trial, which was scheduled to begin Sept. 27, due to congestion on the court calendar. She then scheduled a hearing to be held Nov. 3 to hear arguments on the intended insanity defense as well as the planned severance motion.

Cataldo noted a new trial date would be scheduled after the next hearing is held.

INITIAL HEARING

Several hearings were also held in Circuit Court on Thursday.

Among them, Marshon Robinson, 15, appeared for an initial hearing in a case where he’s charged with a Level 1 felony count of attempted murder.

Robinson is accused of shooting a 19-year-old man twice in the back and injuring him as they walked in an alley near 1396 Benham Ave. in Elkhart on July 28.

During the hearing, Judge Michael Christofeno entered a not-guilty plea on the teen’s behalf while noting he was waived into adult court from Juvenile Court.

A public defender was appointed to represent Robinson. His trial was scheduled to begin March 7.

Christofeno also noted Robinson is currently in custody at the Elkhart County Juvenile Detention Center. He allowed Robinson to stay there instead of moving him to the Jail while the case is underway, provided he doesn’t become a problem.

Aimee Ambrose can be reached at aimee.ambrose@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 240316. Follow her on Twitter at @aambrose_TGN.

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