A Wisconsin English teacher was charged Wednesday after being accused of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student. The affair allegedly involved overnight stays at motels, sexting and messages that professed love.
Samantha J. Fitzpatrick of Oshkosh, Wisc., was charged with sexual assault of a student by school staff, child enticement, exposing a child to harmful material and obstructing an officer. Three of the charges are felonies, and the 28-year-old faces more than 35 years in prison if convicted of all charges.
Fitzpatrick’s phone showed evidence of 67 phone calls to the student, plus a number of Facebook messages that included sexually graphic statements and sexual role-playing and acknowledged feelings of love between the two, according to the Fond du Lac Reporter.
Additionally, police found an exchange of sexually explicit photographs along with the description of the teacher and student performing sexual acts on each other, court records state. The teacher and student have both denied any physical relationship.
Fitzpatrick resigned on May 3 after school administrators addressed concerns with her about her chronic absences, which is when rumors of a tryst started to emerge, Ripon Area School District superintendent Mary Whitrock told the newspaper.
It took seven months, however, for the school district to launch an investigation into improper conduct by Fitzpatrick with a student. That’s when the Ripon Police Department was notified.
Whitrock said that during the initial investigation, both the school district and Ripon Police concluded there was insufficient evidence to open a police investigation. More recent information led to the investigation and charges.
Fitzpatrick and the student were reportedly often absent from school on the same day. Another student at the school told investigators that the student told him that Fitzpatrick had taken him to the Comfort Inn and Suites in Ripon for an overnight stay, and that alcohol and marijuana use might have been involved.
Another student reportedly told investigators that the 17-year-old student showed up to a party at a hotel, and that he told someone he was late because “he was at Fitzpatrick’s and just had sex with her.”
When Fitzpatrick was questioned about the hotel stay, she said she had found the student downtown smoking marijuana. So she put him up in a hotel, not knowing what else to do in that situation. She said that he was in her room for a bit, but that he did not stay, court records show.
According to police, a friend of Fitzpatrick’s said she was having trouble in her marriage and admitted to her that she had an affair with a boy who was turning 18 soon.
Fitzpatrick will appear in court next on Jan 5, and she’s put up a $1,000 bond.