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Climbing Instructor Faces Charges After Allegedly Having Sex With Teen

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Derek Valcourt began working at WJZ in September 2002. His first major...
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COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — A popular chain of rock climbing schools in Maryland is now reeling after police arrest its head coach for allegedly having sex with one of his underage students.  Derek Valcourt has more.

Climbing instructor Michael Lyons, 31, now faces a slew of criminal charges after police say he had an ongoing sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl he was supposed to be teaching at an Earth Treks rock climbing facility in Columbia.

According to court charging documents, Lyons made an admission to having a sexual relationship with the girl, who later reported it to her parents.  She told police she and another student made jokes about having sex.  Lyons asked her when she would “take care of him” or “when was it his turn?”  Police say the two later had sex in a storage closet in the center.

Police say the sexual contact between the instructor and that student took place over the course of three months.

“We think it is possible that there may be other victims because he has worked with young people for quite some time, so we are asking anyone with information to come forward,” said Sherry Llewellyn, Howard County police.

Lyons was arrested at a Timonium Earth Treks Monday afternoon, where those who know him were shocked.

“He’s a nice guy; I know a bunch of his students.  He’s a great teacher so it’s sad to hear, but hopefully they’re wrong,” said Sarah Ryan.

To parents like Tonya Tytings, the arrest is a reminder to speak to her kids about sex.

“Tell me if anything ever happens, regardless of what they tell you, `not to say anything, don’t tell.’  Doesn’t matter.  Trust your mom,” Tytings said.

In all, Lyons faces 12 criminal charges that carry the potential for more than 100 years in prison.  It’s likely he’ll face only a fraction of that time.

His bail has been set at $100,000.

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