Ongoing coverage of child abuse in schools

Police Have Identified Two Additional Alleged Victims of Redlands Teachers

San Bernardino County DA says his "biggest concern is victims, and how many victims are out there"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    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.

    Police in Redlands, Calif., said Wednesday they had identified two additional victims of a high school teacher accused of having sex -- and a baby -- with a teen student.

    Laura Elizabeth Whitehurst, 28, was arrested Monday and is accused of unlawful sexual intercouse with a minor. She gave birth last month to a baby allegedly fathered by a 16-year-old student of hers, authorities said Tuesday.

    Former Student Says He Had Affair With Redlands Teacher

    [LA] 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.

    Following the public announcement of Whitehurst's arrest, police said they had learned of two other victims who both had alleged sexual relationships with Whitehurst beginning in fall of 2007 and into 2008, when the suspect was an English teacher at Redlands High School.

    One victim was a 14-year-old freshman during the time of the alleged relationship.

    Teacher Arrested After Allegedly Having Schoolboy's Baby

    [LA] Teacher Arrested After Allegedly Having Schoolboy's Baby
    A Redlands, Calif. high school teacher allegedly had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student, which resulted in a pregnancy, authorities said. Beverly White reports from Redlands for NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2, 2013.

    "The victim, now 20, told police that he and Whitehurst had sex in her classroom before school, as well as at her apartment and in her car," a police news release stated.

    Another man came forward and said he had a relationship with Whitehurst in 2007-08, when he was a junior in Whitehurst's class. The brief description from police of the relationship appears to match that offered by a man who spoke to NBC4 Southern California Wednesday, saying he had sex with Whitehurst while he was a pupil.

    IE High School Teacher Accused of Having a Baby with Student

    [LA] IE High School Teacher Accused of Having a Baby with Student
    A high school teacher in Redlands is accused of having a child with a student. Police say Laura Whitehurst met the boy at Citrus Valley High School last summer and gave birth two weeks ago. Jacob Rascon reports from the school in Redlands for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on July 2, 2013.

    Whitehurst was released on $25,000 bail Monday evening after her arrest. On Wednesday, police released a mug shot of Whitehurst, shown below.

    Police said a case would be submitted to the office of San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos next week, when additional charges will be determined. 

    Meanwhile, Michael Cooper, now 23, approached news media to share a story of his junior year in high school, in 2007-08. Cooper said he had a physical relationship with Whitehurst, pictured in a 2013 yearbook photo below, who herself was 23 at the time of the affair he described.

    "I didn't feel like a victim; I'm not scarred for life or anything,” Cooper told NBC4. “To be honest, I had a good time when it was going on."

    Whitehurst is a teacher at Citrus Valley High School in Redlands, where the initially reported victim was a junior.

    She was arrested after the boy's mother reported the alleged relationship to the Redlands Unified School District, which notified police. The school district on Tuesday said the teacher involved in the investigation had been placed on leave; the district did not give Whitehurst’s name.

    On Wednesday, county DA Ramos told NBC4 he had a prosecutor assigned to the case who was working with the Redlands Police Department.

    Ramos urged those who believe they were victims to contact Redlands police Detective Natasha Crawford, at (909) 798-7623.

    "Some of the information we’re gathering, there’s possibility that that has been occurring for several years," Ramos said of Whitehurst.

    "The investigation has just started," Ramos added. "Right now, my biggest concern is victims, and how many victims are out there."

    Cooper said he had publicly shared his account of a relationship with Whithurst to encourage other potential victims to come forward to police.

    He said that a fall 2007 assignment in Whitehurst’s English course on dreams led her to tell him after class that she had dreamt about kissing him in the mountains on a field trip.

    Two days later, Cooper said, they kissed in her classroom.

    "When it happens, you're kind of like, all right, this is pretty badass. You know, my teacher is into me," he said. "I was 17 and I was having a good time is what it was."

    A couple of weeks later, she invited him to her apartment, he said. He spent the night, and after that, they saw each other a few times a month, he said.

    "It's not like we went out to movies or dinner or anything," he said.

    "There wasn't a thought of, 'I'm going to get in trouble' or 'Should I say something?'" he added. "It's more of like, 'Holy cow, this hot teacher is into me.'"

    Cooper described Whitehurst as a "bubbly person" and a "friendly teacher" who blended in with students.

    Toward the end of the school year, in spring 2008, Cooper said he began to feel guilty because he had a school-age girlfriend during the alleged affair with Whitehurst, Cooper said. He stopped returning the teacher’s texts and calls, and eventually they broke the affair off amicably, he said.

    Cooper said he had since apologized to the girlfriend.

    Cooper, pictured today above at left, said he got a "C+ or B" in the English class, adding he felt that he did not receive special treatment from Whitehurst.

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