An Oklahoma teacher who decided that an illicit relationship with a teen boy was worth the risk of travel and a rendezvous at a Mississippi hotel has been charged with several counts of rape after police caught her with the 15-year-old. According to authorities in Olive Branch, Miss., Jennifer Caswell, who was already under scrutiny back in her home state of Oklahoma for alleged inappropriate activity with a student, Huffington Post reported Aug. 18, was arrested after being caught in a Best Western hotel with the boy she had been accused of having a relationship with in Hollis, Okla.
To be clear: Jennifer Caswell, a 28-year-old English instructor who now is a former teacher at Hollis Middle School in Hollis, Okla., resigned her position at the middle school in April under a cloud of allegations that she was having an illicit relationship with a teen student. The investigation in Oklahoma had yielded nothing conclusive up until the arrest of Caswell in Mississippi.
According to Harmon County (Okla.) Assistant District Attorney Eric Yarborough, per The Oklahoman: “Things that raised kind of an eyebrow. People seeing a teacher alone with a child may or may not be anything. It could just be innocent contact. The child said nothing’s going on, she’s just a nice teacher.”
Prosecutors in the investigation were prompted to re-evaluate the Caswell case in light of the Mississippi arrest and charge of suspicion of rape on June 18. That re-evaluation was aided by testimony of the 15-year-old boy, who told Olive Branch Police that he had had sex with the former teacher in a Hollis Middle School classroom twice. He said they also had had sex in her car, in her house, and in the house of her father, who is a pastor. The teen was on summer vacation with his mother when Caswell contacted him, driving all the way from Oklahoma to the Gulf state to be with him (650 miles). He jumped a church fence to meet the former teacher in her SUV in the church's parking lot, police said.
After Jennifer Caswell's arrest, she was later charged (Aug. 14) under her married name, Sexton, in Harmon County District Court with three counts of second-degree rape, two counts of enticing a child, and one count of forcible sodomy. She filed for divorce from her husband in May following her resignation from her teaching position and has been using her maiden name.
In Mississippi, Jennifer (Sexton) Caswell was charged with suspicion of statutory rape and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
The Oklahoman also reported that, since Jan. 1, 275 teachers have been arrested for sexual offenses or child pornography, according to S.E.S.A.M.E. (Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct & Exploitation). That number was reached with Jennifer Sexton Caswell's case and with the case of a 6th grade Arkansas teacher who was charged with the rape of a 13-year-old former student this past week. According to an affidavit, the teacher had sex with the teen at least twice and exchanged explicit photos via cell phone.