SHELBYVILLE, Ind. (WISH) - Shelby County prosecutors are investigating a case of a young substitute teacher who may have crossed a line with a student relationship.
Christopher E. Wooten, now 21, and a former substitute teacher at Shelbyville High School, has been accused of having inappropriate relations with a 16-year-old student. He has been charged with child seduction by a child care worker, a Class D felony, said Chief Deputy Prosecutor Brad Landwerlen, who is prosecuting the case. Wooten was arrested June 23.
Wooten was 20 at the time of his alleged relationship with the student. According to the Shelbyville Police Department's initial report, Wooten started teaching in March. The report says Wooten and the girl knew each other before he was employed by Shelbyville Central Schools, and had had a previous sexual relationship in 2010, and that the girl's mother was aware that the two were spending time together and of the age difference.
When SHS administrators were alerted to the fact that Wooten and the girl had a sexual relationship, they called police, the report says. They were concerned that the relationship might have carried over into the school.
He was removed from his position as a substitute teacher for SCS by mid-April and arrested in June after court records were filed. According to the court records, Wooten admitted to having a sexual relationship with the girl.
The maximum penalty for a Class D felony is three years in jail.
As a teacher, Wooten was considered a child care worker with a responsibility for the well-being of his students as well as authority over them. Even though the girl had reached the age of consent, Wooten's role at the school was the grounds for the criminal charges.
"The age of consent is 16 in Indiana," Landwerlen said. "Had she been 15, that would have been an additional count, and a more serious count."
When the accused perpetrator is a child care worker or some other guardian, however, the age of consent rises to 18.
"You have a responsibility for the well-being of the child in that capacity," Landwerlen said.
Schools officials were concerned if the relationship began before or after Wooten assumed his role as a substitute, which placed him in a position of authority over the student. It doesn't matter under the law, Landwerlen said.
"He was the teacher, she was 16 and therefore any sexual conduct was illegal under the child seduction statute," he said.
SCS requires substitute teachers to have a license from the Indiana Department of Education, assistant superintendent Mary Harper said.
"There's an extensive background check, and we do ours through the Indiana State Police," Harper said. "We talk to them at length about their responsibilities as an adult ... their role as a mentor and a model."
Substitutes must be at least 21 years old or have at least 60 credits of college education, which is approximately 20 classes, Harper said.
"We require the official transcripts from the college," she said.
Substitutes also must have a high school diploma.
From the Shelbyville News .
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