Monday, April 20, 2009

Grade school teacher convicted of raping student

A former grade school teacher was convicted Monday of abducting one of her students, age 10, and raping him and his 15-year-old brother.


A former grade school teacher was convicted Monday of abducting one of her students, age 10, and raping him and his 15-year-old brother.

Both sides stipulated the facts in Pierce County Superior Court, and Judge D. Gary Steiner convicted 33-year-old Jennifer Leigh Rice of first-degree kidnapping with sexual motivation, first-degree child molesting and two counts of third-degree child rape.

Facing more than 25 years in prison, Rice remains in jail pending sentencing June 5.

The judge found that Rice took a 10-year-old student she taught in her first year at McKinley Elementary School from his home in Tacoma, drove more than 100 miles and had sex with him at a rest area on Interstate 90 on Aug. 11, 2007. She also was convicted of having sex with his 15-year-old brother in the previous month.

According to court records, the boys' father told investigators that Rice showered his younger son with attention until about July 2007, when she was told to stop coming to the house.

After her arrest, Rice said she'd had sex with the boy four or five times previously, including once when she sneaked into his house while his parents were asleep, according to a police affidavit.

No details on her relationship with the older boy were provided except that he was not one of her students.

The News Tribune of Tacoma reported previously that Rice resigned from earlier jobs teaching Spanish at Spanaway Lake High in the suburban Bethel School District and as a second-grade teacher at Southworth Elementary in Yelm, between Tacoma and Olympia, both when her professional judgment was questioned after a year on the job.

The high school job was in 1998-99 and the grade school job was in 2005-06. It was not immediately clear what Rice did between those two jobs.

Bethel spokesman Mark Wenzel said she left in 1999 after administrators became concerned about unspecified procedural matters that were not "egregious" involving an after-school Spanish club.

Former Yelm Superintendent Alan M. Burke said Rice quit in 2006 after learning her contract would not be renewed because of concerns about classroom management, relationships with colleagues and disciplinary issues, including a report that she let some members of an after-school Spanish club vote on whether other members should stay in the club.

"We don't generally allow students to vote other students off the island," Burke said.

Six months after taking the job at McKinley, Rice was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into reports of inappropriate socializing with students outside school hours, Tacoma schools spokeswoman Leanna Albrecht said.

Investigators found no evidence of sexual misconduct, but because of other unspecified findings her contract was allowed to lapse at the end of the year, Albrecht said.


Information from: The News Tribune,

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