A Redlands high school teacher whose child was fathered by a teenage student pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 41 felony counts of sex crimes with three boys she taught.
Laura Elizabeth Whitehurst, 28, whom her lawyer called "a clean-cut American girl," remained behind bars on $750,000 bail. She was rearrested Monday after San Bernardino Dist. Atty. Michael Ramos charged her with sexually abusing three boys.
After Whitehurst's arrest, two other former students came forward, saying they had sex with her during her six-year tenure with the Redlands Unified School District. Whitehurst resigned from her job last week.
According to court documents, Whitehurst had an "ongoing sexual relationship" with a teenage student who fathered her child. The boy's mother reported the relationship to Citrus Valley High School officials July 1. The teenager admitted to police that he had a more than yearlong sexual relationship with Whitehurst.
According to the July 3 search warrant, during a call recorded by police by the boy to Whitehurst, she allegedly admitted to the "ongoing sexual relationship, the birth of the child and [the boy] being the father of the child."
She later told investigators they began having sex at her apartment in 2012.
Whitehurst joined the Redlands Unified School District six years ago as an English teacher at Redlands High and allegedly began sexual relationships with two boys, one as young as 14, authorities say. She was charged with sex crimes involving both those boys, who are now adults.
Whitehurst's attorney James Gass described his client as "a clean-cut American girl sitting in jail, so she's having a hard time. But she will be OK."
There are growing questions over when Redlands school officials first suspected the alleged misconduct by the teacher.
The district superintendent denied an allegation in the police search warrant that school officials failed to immediately report their knowledge of a sexual relationship between a student and a teacher that resulted in a baby.
The search warrant alleges that the district began investigating the accusation six weeks before reporting it July 1 and did not immediately notify Redlands police or social services as required by law.
In a statement, Supt. Lori Rhodes said the district received the first credible information about a possible relationship on July 1 when the teen's mother reported it to the district.
She said Asst. Supt. Sabine Roberson Phillips called police with the mother present.
Rhodes said someone reported in mid-May that the student and teacher may be involved but did not provide any evidence. At that time, both were interviewed and "were adamant that nothing improper had occurred, and there was no credible evidence to contrary," according to the statement.
But the warrant for district records seeks evidence showing that teachers and administrators "failed to report suspected child abuse as mandated."