Former teacher enters pleas in knife attack on wife, sexual assault of student

32-year-old James Chelekis pleaded no content.

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - A former Kentwood Public Schools teacher accused of attacking his wife with a knife and sexually assaulting a student entered pleas to three felony charges, which could put him in prison for life.

James Philip Chelekis, 32, entered the pleas on Tuesday, Jan. 2 as his trial was set to begin in Kent County Circuit Court.

He pleaded no contest to assault with intent to murder for attacking his wife with a knife at a home on Oakvale Drive SW in Wyoming.

Police were called to the home shortly before 6 a.m. on June 27. The victim was treated for stab wounds to her neck and hands. She has since filed for divorce.

During the investigation, police learned that Chelekis was having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student at Crestwood Middle School. The student told police that the sexual relationship spanned over the course of a year and a half.  Chelekis was a math teacher and had worked in the district for about six years.

Chelekis pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a potential life offense.

In exchange for his pleas, the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office dismissed a charge of carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent. Sentencing before Kent County Circuit Court Judge Paul Sullivan is scheduled for Jan. 23. Chelekis remains in the Kent County Jail on a $1.75 million bond.

Chelekis told investigators he and his wife got into an argument and that he armed himself with a knife, court records show. During a struggle, he and his wife fell, which led to injuries to her throat, court records show. She also had defensive wounds to her hands, according to court records.

The couple’s two children were home at the time, but were not hurt.

Wyoming police earlier said there is no indication that Chelekis' wife knew about the relationship with the student. The school district placed Chelekis on administrative leave after criminal charges were filed.  He is no longer employed by the district.

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