Crime

Missouri Teacher Accused Of Sexually Abusing Foster Child

| by Jared Keever

A Missouri elementary school teacher has been accused of sexually abusing a teenager whom she had taken in as foster child.

Jessica Jones, 32, was arraigned June 27 in Greene County on charges of statutory sodomy and endangering the welfare of a child, reports Springfield News-Leader. 

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Jones is an art teacher at Watkins Elementary School in Springfield, Missouri, and has also taught at Springfield Option Site, which The Associated Press described as a school for “at-risk” students. 

According to court documents obtained by the News-Leader, Jones met her alleged victim when the the girl was a student of hers. It is not clear at which school the two met. 

The girl moved in with Jones in May 2013 after the teacher completed the paperwork and steps to become a foster parent.

Police say in the documents they first became aware of allegations regarding an inappropriate relationship in 2014 after Jones took in a second child. That child had reported to authorities that the teacher and the alleged victim were sleeping in the same bed together and that she had seen photos of Jones and the other girl kissing. 

But during a July 1, 2014 forensic child interview with the alleged victim, the girl reportedly did not mention an inappropriate relationship. 

The investigation into the allegations was later suspended because of "conflicting information,” according to the court documents.

But on May 26, 2015, police began looking into the matter again after a Children's Division investigator reported the alleged victim had said she was involved in a sexual relationship with the teacher. 

According to documents, the girl claimed in a June 9 interview that she had been abused by Jones since she was 14 years old. She told investigators she lied in the previous interview because she liked living with the teacher and “felt she had nowhere else to go, so she did not want Jessica to get in trouble.”

The documents indicate the alleged victim told investigators the first sexual contact with Jones occurred in July 2013 when Jones performed oral sex on the teen after the two had been drinking together. She reportedly said she and the teacher had subsequently performed oral sex on each other “so many times she could not remember.” The last incident was reportedly said to have occurred in May 2015.

The girl told investigators Jones had begun acting “more like a parent” in the last year. She also said she believed she had been admitted to the behavioral unit of a local hospital after Jones lied and said the teen had become aggressive and suicidal, according to the police documents. 

The victim also reportedly told police that she had smoked marijuana with the teacher and that at one time Jones had given her $80 to buy marijuana. 

Jones has posted $25,000 bail and been released from jail. She is due back in court for a preliminary hearing on July 30. 

Her attorney, Roger Jones, declined to comment when contacted by the News-Leader. 

A Springfield Public Schools representative said Jones is still employed by the school and administrators are aware of the charges. She declined to comment further on the case but pointed out that because it is summer Jones is not currently in contact with students. 

Sources: Springfield News-Leader, KSHB News (AP Story)

Photo Credit: Greene County Sheriff’s Office via Springfield News-Leader