A former Redlands high school teacher whose child was fathered by a teenage student will spend a year in jail after pleading guilty Wednesday in a San Bernardino County courtroom to half a dozen sex crimes.
Laura Elizabeth Whitehurst, 28, had faced 41 felony counts of sex crimes with three boys she taught. With the plea deal, she admitted guilt to six counts -- four for unlawful sexual intercourse and two for oral copulation of a person under 18.
In addition to jail, Whitehurst was placed on five years’ probation, must undergo counseling and register for life as a sex offender. She will serve her time in county jail but could be sent to state prison if she violates the terms of her parole, said San Bernardino County district attorney spokesman Christopher Lee.
Whitehurst was arrested July 1 on suspicion of having sex repeatedly with a student from Citrus Valley High School. She gave birth last month to a child fathered by the now-17-year-old student, who was present at the birth. The boy's mother complained to school officials.
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 earlier this month.
During a call recorded by police by the boy to Whitehurst, also known in law enforcement circles as a "pretext call," the teacher allegedly admitted to the "ongoing sexual relationship, the birth of the child and [the boy] being the father of the child," according to the July 3 search warrant.
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."
The case has raised questions about when Redlands school officials first suspected the misconduct by the teacher and how the case was handled.
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 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.
[For the Record, 12:45 p.m. PDT, July 31, 2013: A previous version of this post incorrectly identified John Hall as spokesman for the San Bernardino County district attorney's office; the spokesman was Christopher Lee.]
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