A Redlands high school teacher whose child was fathered by a teenage student was charged Monday with 41 felony counts of sexual intercourse and oral copulation in connection with three boys.
Laura Elizabeth Whitehurst, 28, was arrested last week on suspicion of having sex repeatedly with a student at Citrus Valley High School. She gave birth last month to a child fathered by the now 17-year-old student. After her arrest, two other former students came forward saying they had sex with her during her six-year tenure at Redlands Unified School District.
“Students represent the future of our communities and protecting them will continue to be my number one priority,” San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos said.
Ramos on Monday asked that her bail be increased to $750,000. Whitehurst was released last week on $25,000 bond.
Whitehurst had an “ongoing sexual relationship” with a teenage student who fathered her child until she was arrested July 1, according to a Redlands police search warrant that documents a police recording of her conversation with the boy.
The boy’s mother reported the relationship on July 1 to Citrus Valley High School officials. He then admitted to police that he had a more than yearlong sexual relationship with Whitehurst.
Redlands detectives had the now 17-year-old boy call the AP English teacher so they could gather more proof that she had sex with the minor repeatedly.
According to the July 3 search warrant, during the call Whitehurst allegedly admitted to the “ongoing sexual relationship, the birth of the child and V-John Doe being the father of the child.”
Later, during questioning by detectives, Whitehurst admitted having sex with the boy numerous times. She told investigators they began having sex at her apartment after a Disneyland trip in 2012.
The sexual relationship continued after she became pregnant in September 2012 and the boy was present when she gave birth to the child on June 18, according to the search warrant.
Thirty of the 41 counts involve the baby’s father, according to the charge sheets.
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. She was charged with sex crimes involving both those boys who are now men.
Police said a 20-year-old man told detectives that he began his relationship with her in the fall of 2007 when he was a 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 when 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.
There are also growing question over when Redlands school officials first suspected misconduct by the teacher.
The schools’ 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 teacher that resulted in a baby.
The 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 Asst. 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 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.
Whitehurst has resigned her position after she was 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.