Redlands School Officials Had Questioned Teacher About Relationship With Student

Police were not contacted after teacher Laura Whitehurst and her alleged teen victim were questioned by school district officials in mid-May

By Melissa Pamer and Tony Shin
|  Saturday, Jul 6, 2013  |  Updated 11:52 AM PDT
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Citrus Valley High School teacher Laura Whitehurst met the teen father of her child on a school sponsored trip to Disneyland. The teen told police he continued his sexual relationship Whitehurst throughout her pregnancy, and attended the baby’s birth. The Redlands Unified School District may have known about the alleged relationship, and did not report it to law enforcement. Tony Shin reports from Redlands for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on July 5, 2013.

Tony Shin

Citrus Valley High School teacher Laura Whitehurst met the teen father of her child on a school sponsored trip to Disneyland. The teen told police he continued his sexual relationship Whitehurst throughout her pregnancy, and attended the baby’s birth. The Redlands Unified School District may have known about the alleged relationship, and did not report it to law enforcement. Tony Shin reports from Redlands for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on July 5, 2013.

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More Alleged Victims Come Forward in Teacher Sex Investigation

Another man has come forward saying he too had a relationship with his teacher, Laura Elizabeth Whitehurst. Michael Cooper spoke out after hearing that Whitehurst was arrested, accused of having a baby with a 16-year-old student of hers. Jacob Rascon reports from Redlands for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on July 3, 2013.

Former Student Says He Had Affair With Redlands Teacher

Michael Cooper, now 23, said he had a sexual relationship with his former high school teacher, Laura Whitehurst, when he was a minor. Raw video from an interview with NBC4’s Jacob Rascon on July 3, 2013.
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A school district investigation into a relationship between a Redlands teacher and a student with whom she’s now accused of having a sexual relationship – and a baby – did not result in a report to police or child protective services, according to court documents filed Friday.

In May, the Redlands Unified School District questioned Laura Elizabeth Whitehurst – a Citrus Valley High School teacher who was arrested Monday on suspicion of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor – as well as her alleged victim.

Whitehurst was at the time more than seven months pregnant, and police on Monday said the father was a teen student with whom she had an ongoing sexual relationship.

An affidavit submitted Wednesday to a San Bernardino County judge by Redlands police Detective Dominick Povero describes Whitehurst’s alleged relationship with the teen, as well the school district’s investigation into the pair on May 16 and May 17.

Povero was seeking a search warrant for school records related to the investigation, and San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Richard Peel on Wednesday granted him access to personnel files for Whitehurst, as well as her work emails and any relevant property on the Citrus Valley High campus. The document was filed in public court records Friday.

“Evidence from email communication and personnel files may show teachers, school administrators, and district administrators failed to report suspected child abuse as mandated,” Povero wrote.

Whitehurst, 28, pictured in her booking photo below, was released from police custody Monday night on $25,000 bail. Police said she had given birth on June 18.

On Wednesday, police said investigators had learned of two other alleged victims since Whitehurst’s arrest was made public.

One alleged victim was a freshman at the time of a sexual relationship in 2007 and 2008, which occurred at the same time as a similar relationship with a boy, now 23, who spoke to NBC4 about his experience with Whitehurst.

"There wasn't a thought of, 'I'm going to get in trouble' or 'Should I say something?'" Michael Cooper told NBC4 of a relationship he described during his junior year at Redands High School, where Whitehurst was his English teacher. "It's more of like, 'Holy cow, this hot teacher is into me.'"

The affidavit from Povero provides details of the police investigation into Whitehurst and the teen -- and into the school district questioning of the pair that took place more than six weeks before the teacher's arrest.

The court filing states that Redlands Unified Assistant Superintendent Sabine Robertson-Phillips had spoken to Whitehurst about her relationship to the  victim, described as “John Doe.” Citrus Valley High Principal Bernard Cavanagh spoke to “John Doe,” according to Povero.

But it was not until the alleged victim’s mother contact school district officials – after Whitehurst gave birth – that educators got in touch with police, the affidavit states. That happened on Monday, when detectives went to speak with the ”John Doe,” who was 16 when the alleged relationship began and is 17 now.

The teen told detectives he had had an “ongoing” relationship with Whitehurst since July 2012, the document states.

“John Doe and Whitehurst met at a school sponsored trip to Disneyland, where they began communicating,” the affidavit states.

Their sexual relationship included “numerous instances of sexual intercourse and sexual oral copulation” that continued weekly after Whitehurst became pregnant last September, according to the document.

Whitehurst told the teen he was her only recent partner and therefore the father of the child, Povero wrote. The teen attended the birth, according to the document.

In his presence, Povero had the teen call Whitehurst, who on the phone confirmed their relationship and that the teen was the baby’s father, the detective wrote.

When Poverothen  spoke to Whitehurst in person, she confirmed the above details of the relationship, the detective wrote.

Officials with the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office told NBC4 they expect charges against Whitehurst to be filed July 8.

School district officials on Tuesday issued a statement that said the district was cooperating with the investigation.

"The District was recently made aware of allegations involving a high school student and teacher. We immediately notified the police and placed the employee on leave,” the statement read.

"Because we do not want to jeopardize the ongoing investigation, we are unable to comment further at this time," the school district statement continued. "We appreciate the quick response to our complaint by the Redlands Police Department. Our heart goes out to the victim and his family."

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