Redlands superintendent denies cover-up of pregnant teacher case
The Redlands schools superintendent denied an allegation in a police search warrant that school officials failed to immediately report their knowledge of a sexual relationship between a student and teacher that resulted in a baby.
Laura Elizabeth Whitehurst, 28, was arrested last week on suspicion of having sex repeatedly with a 16-year-old Citrus Valley High School student and is now under investigation for having sexual contact with at least two other students during her six-year tenure. Whitehurst gave birth to a child on June 18. Prosecutors are expected to make an announcement on charges as early as today.
A search warrant alleges that the district began investigating the accusation six weeks before reporting it on 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 that Assistant Supt. Sabine Roberson Phillips called police with the mother present.
Rhodes said somebody 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 first obtained by NBC-TV Channel 4 seeks evidence showing that teachers and administrators “failed to report suspected child abuse as mandated.”
The search warrant written by Det. Dominick Povero also revealed that Whitehurst’s relationship with the student began after a July 2012 trip to Disneyland and involved numerous acts of sex even after the teacher became pregnant. According to the warrant, the boy was present when Whitehurst gave birth in June.
After the boy told his mother, she contacted the school district, which reported the relationship to Redlands police.
Since the teacher’s arrest, other former students have come forward.
Whitehurst joined the Redlands Unified School District six years ago as an English teacher at Redlands High School and allegedly began sexual relationships with two boys, one as young as 14, authorities say.
Police said a 20-year-old man told detectives that he began his relationship with her in the fall of 2007 when he was freshman, Redlands police said.
He said he and Whitehurst had sex in her classroom before school, in her apartment and in her car, said Redlands police spokesman Carl Baker. He told police the relationship ended in early 2008.
Another alleged victim, now 22, told police he had a sexual relationship with Whitehurst while she was his teacher at Redlands High. He said the relationship took place when he was a junior at the high school in 2007 and 2008, according to Baker.
The man told authorities the relationship began after a discussion about an English paper about dreams and she told him she had a dream about kissing him. Whitehurst left Redlands High in 2009 and worked at another school before going to Citrus Valley High.
The 28-year-old teacher attended school in Redlands before graduating from UC Santa Barbara. She has also served as an assistant coach for the girls’ varsity soccer team. Her father was a senior administrator at the school district.
She has been placed on leave by the Redlands Unified School District.
The investigation into Whitehurst is ongoing and authorities are asking anyone with additional information to contact Det. Natasha Crawford at (909) 798-7623.
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