According to Sumter County authorities, Elizabeth Marie Moss, a 31-year-old choir teacher at Chestnut Oaks Middle School in Sumter, S.C. stands accused of performing oral sex on one of her 13-year-old male students, Huffington Post reported Feb. 21. She and her lawyer have issued a statement disputing the claims.
"Our investigation has confirmed that (Moss) was in a sexual relationship with the student," Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis said during a press conference, according to the Sumter Item. "The school received the information first, then contacted us. The district's administration has cooperated fully with the investigation."
Moss has been on administrative leave from her job at Chestnut Oaks Middle School since Feb. 11. The choir teacher was arrested earlier this week and subsequently charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
The Sumter County Sheriff's Office, which conducted the investigation into the "inappropriate" Facebook messages that Moss sent to the 13-year-old and other students, was notified by the Sumter School District. District officials had not necessarily found the messages to be of a sexual nature, but thought it best that authorities look into the matter.
"As soon as we caught wind that there might be some inappropriate behavior between a staff member and a student, we turned it over to the sheriff's office," Sumter School District Superintendent Frank Baker said. "She was called into my office and placed on administrative leave the same day." Baker said that once the Sumter County Sheriff's Office began their investigation, District involvement ended.
Dennis said that the alleged sexual assault took place between March and April in 2013. According to WIS-TV in Columbia, the encounter took place at Moss' place of residence.
Moss, until recently, was the honors chorus director and music teacher at Chestnut Oaks Middle School. Investigators have questioned her spouse, who is a school district employee. The couple have three children and authorities say they are not ruling out the possibility of some form of sexual abuse in the home, although the husband said there was no indication of such behavior.
Dennis also noted that the investigation was ongoing and that other victims could emerge -- which could lead to additional charges being filed.
On Thursday, Senior Investigator Darlene Dellinger revealed that police were working on new information since earlier in the week and that more interviews were scheduled. "The students have been very forthcoming," she told WIS-TV. "They realize the seriousness of the crime."
Dellinger also said that Elizabeth Moss showed signs of being a textbook sexual predator. "It is a little enlightening to see this classic predator behavior in this case," she said. "It's been almost textbook. It's called grooming. The offering of gifts, being overly concerned about the student's well-being or behavior, a student's lifestyle. It's almost like they take on a childlike demeanor themselves."
She said that the teacher had used social media as a way to earn her students' trust.
Elizabeth Moss and her lawyer, Rose Mary Parham, released a statement disputing the charges. "These allegations arose after Beth disciplined some of her students at school," the statement read, according to WIS-TV. "She is innocent of all charges and looks forward to her day in court."