A 14-year-old girl who allegedly married her teacher in a pagan ritual in the woods of northern Michigan cried after learning the woman was in trouble with police.
“She’s wanting to protect the teacher” from charges of sexual assault, said State Police Sgt. Diane Oppenheim, who investigated the case.
“She’s starting to understand she’s probably a victim, and that it was wrong. She’s going to need help.”
Elizabeth Miklosovic, 36, of Grand Rapids, is accused of sexually assaulting the girl five times since the do-it-yourself June wedding in the Manistee National Forest in Manistee County, Oppenheim said.
Miklosovic, a seventh-grade language arts teacher at South Haven’s Baseline Middle School, befriended the girl when she was in her class two years ago. The girl was going through emotional problems when the teacher asked her family for permission to take her camping in June, Oppenheim said.
“The parents thought she was mentoring, that she was a good role model, finally somebody she could connect to,” she said.
After setting up Miklosovic’s pop-up camper, the girl and her teacher lit candles, “did some chants” and exchanged vows among the trees, Oppenheim said. There were no priests or witnesses. “They followed the ritual,” which also included exchanging a braided piece of cloth, she said.
During a week in the woods, after the vows, the teacher and the girl had the first of five sexual encounters, police said. “They consummated their relationship, and it progressed more from that,” Oppenheim said.
The other encounters were reportedly at Van Buren County park and a Grand Rapids home where Miklosovic lives with another woman and an adopted son.
The girl told a classmate, who reported it to school officials. From there, information reached police. Police said the victim still had the braided wedding cloth.
Miklosovic told police she practiced witchcraft when she was younger, but was no longer involved in it. She said she gave the girl a book on witchcraft, “because she knew she was interested in it,” Oppenheim said.
Miklosovic grew up in Muskegon, the older of two children, and attended Muskegon High School until November 1985, her junior year. School records show she transferred to an alternative school in Muskegon, though she didn’t graduate from there. It isn’t clear where she went after that.
She eventually went to college. Officials at Saginaw Valley State University said Miklosovic graduated in 1994 with a bachelor of arts in English. She received her teaching certificate from Grand Valley State University in 2000, said Ron Ward, the attorney for South Haven Public Schools.
Her father, William Miklosovic, of Muskegon, said he and her mother divorced years ago. He hasn’t seen his daughter in 10 or 15 years, he said. “I didn’t even know she was teaching until I saw it on TV.”
Miklosovic was arraigned Thursday on a charge of first-degree sexual assault, a potential life offense. She was held on a $100,000 bond. She also is charged in Kent County with first- and second-degree sexual assault.
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