Former student details sexual assault at Holt High School

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include comments from Wulfekuhler’s attorney.

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – A former Holt High School student has been sentenced to two years in prison for sexually assaulting two other students who took part in the 2019 drama programs.

Steven Gregory Wulfekuhler, 23, was charged in 2022 with four counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct 3 and two counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct 4 involving two victims. On March 4, 2024, he entered a guilty plea to two counts of CSC 3 – one count for each victim.

6 News spoke exclusively with one of the survivors of his sex abuse. The survivor has asked not to be identified and uses they/them pronouns. 6 News does not identify victims of sex crimes without their consent.

Steven Wulfekuhler, 23, has entered a guilty plea to two counts of criminal sexual conduct 3 for actions during his senior year in high school at Holt High School. (WLNS)
Steven Wulfekuhler, 23, has entered a guilty plea to two counts of criminal sexual conduct 3 for actions during his senior year in high school at Holt High School. (WLNS)

The survivor says they met Wulfekuhler in 2019 while working as on the technical aspects of the school’s performing arts program.

“There weren’t many extracurriculars I wanted to do. I wasn’t into a lot of the sports or I wasn’t good at a lot of them,” they tell 6 News. “And I was already a band kid, so I was like, why don’t we add theater?”

The survivor was a 14-year-old freshman at the school. Wulfekuhler was an 18-year-old senior. The drama program encourages the upper-class members to mentor younger students into the culture of the drama program.

They described Wulfekuhler as a “teacher’s pet,” who was not particularly beloved by his peers. The survivor said they also were not well-liked in the program, either.

“I remember thinking he was kind of odd,” they tell 6 News of the performer. “Kind of just weird vibes.”

They say Wulfekuhler would make comments that were “borderline” inappropriate.

(FILE/WLNS)
(FILE/WLNS)

“So they weren’t wrong per se,” they said of the man’s comments. They specifically remember a joke the performer made about kissing the technical theater student. The student says they told the performer they had a boyfriend.

The survivor remembers the perpetrator responding: “’I didn’t say anything about dating you.’”

After the kissing comment, the survivor says Wulfekuhler began escorting the technical theater student out of the theater and to their waiting family.

“He like asked for a hug and I was like, ‘OK, sure.’ And I get, like I gave him a hug,” they said. “But like when I let go, he didn’t let go. And he just held on.”

The survivor remembers Wulfekuhler letting go when their brother approached the door to the school, impatient at waiting on their sibling.

The younger student also remembers the older student leaving his performing duties to spend time with the survivor who was attending to technical responsibilities.

They described an environment lacking in adult supervision and oversight during rehearsals.

“Once it hits a certain point the directors didn’t stay around and wait for us to leave the building like they’re supposed to, you know?” they told 6 News of the adults who were supposed to be supervising. “And they would, they would just leave and be like, ‘OK, have a good day.’ Then we’d go somewhere where we didn’t see anybody and stuff would happen.”

They say the older actor inserted his fingers “inside of me” in a school stairway. CSC 3 requires sexual penetration of a person between 13 and 15 years old.

The survivor says Wulfekuhler would require them to use specific pet names.

“He had me call him Daddy,” the survivor said. “And he called me baby. I didn’t like it. I like the fact that he liked it. Like I’m glad that it made him happy, but it wasn’t something I was interested in myself. And it kind of – it kind of grosses me out up to this day.”

Wulfekuhler graduated and moved on, and the survivor tried to move on as well.

Then, the following year — 2020 — they began referring to Wulfekuhler as a “pedo.” The name spread through the program and adults pulled the cast and crew together to talk about how inappropriate the use of the word was.

“I raised my hand because everyone in this room might think I’m a liar,” they said of the confrontation.

When the adult finally called on them, “I was like, ‘that was me. And it was not a lie.’”

That disclosure led to the survivor consulting the school counselor and ultimately to reporting to law enforcement.

While they faced a litany of conversations with their family, counselors, law enforcement and prosecutors, they say the theater continued on.

“From the theater, things went on like normal, and, in my eyes, nothing really changed,” they said. “ I mean I went to theater the next day after telling everybody that, and it’s just … theater. Everyone just kind of moved on, you know.”

The survivor said there were some reforms put in place, that lasted “a day.” It is not clear if the district took any further actions.

In a written statement to 6 News, Holt Public Schools Superintendent Dr. David Hornak had this to say:

“At Holt Public Schools, the safety and well-being of our students and staff is our number one priority.

“Our district does not tolerate threats, intimidation, harassment or violence. Reports of inappropriate or potentially illegal conduct are investigated thoroughly in coordination with law enforcement, consistent with our school policies and protocols. Due to federal protections on student privacy and student information we are not commenting further on this particular situation. We encourage all students to report concerns about illegal or inappropriate conduct to school administrators so they can be investigated.”

Written statement from Dr. David Hornak, Holt Public School Superintendent

Court records show Wulfekuhler has entered a guilty plea to the two counts of 3rd-degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. The survivor’s parents say the plea came under a Michigan law that will see his conviction expunged after he has served his sentence in prison and one year of probation.

Wulfekuhler’s attorney Dustyn Coontz tells 6 News that under the law, once a person completes their sentence the case is dismissed – not expunged. He also said under the law a person has to enter a guilty plea, but they are not ‘convicted.’

Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Scott Hughes could not confirm or deny if a specific prosecution took place under this state law, including whether or not Wulfekuhler was granted a plea under the law.

He is currently lodged in the Ingham County Jail awaiting transfer to the Michigan Department of Corrections.

The survivor wants the district to “take responsibility,” as well.

“I want to see them take more responsibility over the students – to know where they are,” they said. “If you can’t know that two students have gone off somewhere during your production, I guess you shouldn’t have theater anymore because anything could be happening in any of the rooms of the school. And as long as the janitor is not near, which they have like a loud machine, which you can hear coming down the hallway, they could be doing anything and you wouldn’t know it.”

6 News has asked for specific public actions the district took in response to the reported sexual assaults and is awaiting a response. The survivor’s parents will address the school board Monday night to demand changes in district responses to allegations of sexual abuse in the district’s schools.

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