Former Teacher Pleads Guilty to Sex With Students, Receives One Year in Plea Deal
SAN BERNARDINO – While the immediate public expected a multi-year sentence for having sex with underage students, a former Redlands school teacher received one year in a plea agreement with the county district attorney’s office on Wednesday. Laura Elizabeth Whitehurst, 28, who admitted to authorities that she had sex – and conceived a child – with an underage student, had 41 counts of unlawful sex with a minor reduced to just six counts.
In court on Wednesday, Judge Art Harrison conducted the hearing in which the plea agreement was announced. Formal sentencing will occur next month.
Whitehurst, who was charged with having a physical relationship with at least two other students who were 14-years-old, will also serve five years probation, according to the deal. Her attorney, James Gass, told radio station KFI-640 show “John and Ken Show” on Wednesday that Whitehurst did not do anything against anyone’s will or by force. “I didn’t have a lot of leverage with the District Attorney. She admitted those things to police. She’s taken responsibility for what’s happened here.”
Whitehurst, a former English teacher, was first arrested on July 1, about two weeks after giving birth to a girl who, police say, was fathered by “John Doe No. 1”, who was 16 when the two first began having sex. That youth, who will turn 18 in a few days, is reportedly headed to UC Santa Barbara, having recently graduated from Citrus Valley High School in June, which is where Whitehurst and the youth first came in contact.
Whitehurst had contact with her two other victims at Redlands High School, where she began her teaching career in 2007. When it was announced that there were two more underage victims, Whitehurst was re-arrested in July and faced a $750,000 bail, later reduced to $500,000.
Whitehurst’s parents, Dale and Pam Whitehurst, have reportedly been caring for the child since their daughter’s arrest. The baby’s father, according to his attorney, told the Riverside Press-Enterprise that the teen and his family did not think the plea arrangement was right.
Heather Cullen, the attorney representing the teen father, called the deal “a slap on the wrist,” according to the Press-Enterprise report. She said the young man will file victim-impact statement with the court, or could read it on the sentencing date.
Whitehurst, who is expected to retain custody of her daughter once released from jail, pleaded guilty to four of the 30 counts of unlawful sex with a minor and two of the 11 counts of oral copulation with a minor. Part of the plea deal is that she will lose her teaching credential and must register as a sex offender.
Press-Enterprise: Ex-teacher pleads guilty to having sex with student
Los Angeles Times: Redlands teacher’s sex-case sentence too lenient, boy’s lawyer says
Daily News: Former Redlands teacher Laura Whitehurst receives 1-year jail sentence for sex with students
Redlands-LomaLinda Patch: Whitehurst Plea Includes Life as Registered Sex Offender