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In theory, teachers are supposed to be role models for their students. But every week, it seems like we hear about another teacher using their power to take advantage of a student.
This year, there was no shortage of teachers who crossed professional boundaries and sexually exploited minors. So, we rounded up some of the worst teacher scandals of 2017.
1. Tad Cummins
This was one of the most infamous teacher-student scandals this year. On March 13, high school student Elizabeth Thomas was allegedly kidnapped by her former 50-year-old teacher, according to NBC News. What came next was a national manhunt.
After over a month on the run, the pair were found at a remote cabin in northern California. Apparently, before the two allegedly ran off, an attorney for the Thomas family revealed on Crime Stories podcast that the 15-year-old girl’s relationship with the teacher was an open secret. They were reportedly spotted holding hands and kissing, incidents which eventually led to the teacher’s suspension from his job.
Cummins has since been indicted on federal charges. According to his attorney, statements Cummins made to authorities after his arrest were coerced, reported the Tennessean.
2. Tennille Whitaker
Over the summer, a married fourth-grade teacher from Nevada resigned after she was accused of having sexual relations with at least two teen boys, according to Elko Daily Free Press. Tennille Whitaker, 40, was arrested in June for allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old, according to a press release from Elko County Sheriff's Office. In fact, a parent allegedly caught Whitaker and a teen alone behind a closed classroom door, according to The Daily Caller.
It's unclear if Whitaker has made a statement at this time.
3. Tracy Wayne Crosby
In November, a criminal justice teacher and part-time sheriff’s deputy from Waycross, Georgia was arrested for not only allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old boy, but also for knowingly exposing that teenager to HIV, according to Jacksonville.com. Crosby, 42, has since been suspended from his teaching job and fired from his part-time gig at the Pierce County Sheriff’s department.
Just as with Whitaker, a parent also caught Crosby in an inappropriate act. According to News4Jax, the victim’s mother followed her son to a park, where she caught the two engaging in a sexual act inside a car.
It's unclear if Wayne has a lawyer who can speak on his behalf.
4. Alana Chasky
A teacher’s aide who worked at a Florida private school was allegedly in a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy with behavioral issues, according to Florida Today. Alana Chasky, 35, was arrested in September after the victim’s mom showed text messages from the teacher’s aide to police, reported Click Orlando.
The boy was actually arrested in connection with a burglary at Chasky’s home, Florida Today reported. Chasky resigned from her role at the school after police began investigating her relationship with the underage student she met while working as a bus aide. It's unclear if she's made a statement at this time.
5. Rian Rodriguez
A teen soccer player from Florida allegedly ran away with her high school’s soccer coach in November. Days later, the pair were discovered in upstate New York by a state trooper. Caitlyn Frisina, 17, and Rian Rodriguez, 27, were the subject of a national manhunt until the cop noticed the Mercury Sable that the two reportedly fled Florida in, ABC News reported.
Rodriguez was arrested without incident. According to a police affidavit, Frisina's friend claimed she "hooked up with Rian and he worked his way into her life" and that she wanted to "leave the country with him and other crazy stuff.” When the two fled, it shocked both Frisina’s family and her boyfriend. The coach was a long-time family friend.
It's unclear if Rodriguez has an attorney who can speak on his behalf.
6. Carlos Deangelo Bell
A former track coach and school aide from Maryland allegedly sexually assaulted 42 teens, according to CNN. Carlos Deangelo Bell, 30, was indicted on over 206 sex crimes. To make matters worse, he is HIV-positive, and prosecutors believe he may have actively tried to infect his victims, according to CNN.
Bell’s alleged victims range in age from 11 to 17, the Charles County State Attorney’s Office said in a statement, and the abuse went on for years: from May 2015 to June 2017. Bell was reportedly fired from his teaching job after a parent found disturbing text messages from Bell to her child in 2016.
It's unclear if Bell has released a statement at this time.
7. Hunter Day
In November, a science teacher from Oklahoma was arrested for allegedly sexually abusing and sexting an underage student, according to The Washington Post. Parents contacted police after discovering that 22-year-old Hunter Day allegedly sexted their son.
KWTV reported that Day allegedly admitted to sending “bra and panty” photos of herself to the student and to receiving photos of the boy’s genitals. Day is married to the school’s football coach.
It's unclear if Day's attorney has released a statement regarding the charges.
8. Katherine Gonzalez
In October, this former fifth-grade teacher pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy. According to FOX6 in Milwaukee, 24-year-old Katherine Gonzalez said she engaged in a sexual relationship with the boy because he was depressed and she wanted to make him “happy.”
She brought the child to her home in February to watch “Deadpool.” During the movie, she touched the victim inappropriately and made him fondle her, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. She was sentenced to five years in prison for the abuse.
9. Jill Lamontagne
In October, a married teacher from Maine was indicted for allegedly having a sexual relationship her 17-year-old former health class student. Jill Lamontagne, 29, allegedly had sex with the boy “numerous times, in the classroom, at her house, in her car.” Those details were explained in an abuse order after the teen was hospitalized following a suspected suicide attempt, according to the Portland Press Herald.
The teen allegedly told his mom and a nurse at the hospital that he was in love with Lamontagne. Even though the teacher is married and has two young children, she allegedly told the victim that she hasn’t had sex in two years.
According to Lamontagne's attorney, "The charges are completely untrue, period. These allegations arise from a high school rumor which consisted of the fantasies of an emotionally troubled 18-year-old.”
10. Nelson Cousin
A high school paraprofessional and assistant coach from Ohio was fired in July after the school found out he was allegedly sexting with three of the athletes he coached. According to NBC affiliate WNWO, Nelson Cousin, 28, sent naked pictures of himself to three different student-athletes, one them being a 13-year-old girl. The other victims were ages 16 and 17.
After police searched Cousin’s home, they made another disturbing find. According to the Toledo Blade, police had to leave his home because they became nauseated upon finding a dead, decayed dog in a bedroom overflowing with maggots and flies.
It's unclear if Cousin's attorney has made a statement at this time.
[Photo: Canadian County Sheriff’s Office, Columbia County Sheriff's Office]
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