RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – The family of a Rio Rancho teenager who claims his teacher sent sexually explicit photos, videos and messages is stepping forward to share their side of the story.
The family says they’re upset and they want people to know what happened.
Rio Rancho Police confirmed Wednesday that it’s investigating an incident related to Rio Rancho High School. A relative of the victim tells KRQE News 13 that the incident under investigation involves nude photos, graphic videos and messages asking for sex. They claim those messages were sent by a 37-year-old female teacher to a 17-year-old male student.
“Very angry, very angry that somebody put in that position was able to do that,” said a relative of the family, who didn’t want to be identified.
The relative claims that the teacher who sent the messages was a permanent substitute and a direct teacher of the boy’s. The relative says the incident has been traumatic.
“Hurt, at the same time, that you know, kids have to go through this,” said the relative. “You always hope that children are going to be safe when they’re at school.”
The relative claims that the substitute has been targeting the teen for the last month. The victim in this case claims the teacher is 37-year-old Kristy Gates. Rio Rancho Public Schools confirmed to News 13 on Wednesday that Gates is no longer employed with the district.
Records obtained by KRQE News 13 show that the messages started in early December 2015 and ended in early January 2016. During that time, records obtained by News 13 show that the teacher and the student exchanged around 900 messages.
Relatives say the messages began after the 17-year-old boy accepted the teacher’s friend request on Facebook. Records show the teacher was the first to message the student. According to the relative, the teen didn’t know what to do.
“When he wouldn’t respond to her, she kept on bugging him,” said the relative.
Records show the messaging escalated quickly to sexually charged text messages, then photos and videos.
“There’s naked frontal, full frontal, naked from the back, there’s naked crotch shots,” said the relative.
Records obtained by News 13 show photos, videos and messages that the family says were sent by the teacher. Many are too explicit to air or publish. Records obtained by News 13 show that they include nearly a dozen semi to fully nude photos that were sent and around five videos showing the woman performing sex acts.
“Just very vulgar nasty things … a child isn’t need to be seeing,” said the relative.
The written messages are equally explicit.
For example on December 28, records obtained by News 13 show that the teacher wrote, “Tell me exactly what you want a video of.”
That same night, records show that the teacher also wrote, “What would happen after I give you the best sex of your life.”
Records show that another message says “Sneak out.. and come **** me. Are you gonna make me beg?”
“She gave him her address, her telephone number,” said the relative.
Relatives say the boy never had sexual contact with the teacher. According to records obtained by News 13, the teacher made statements that she knew what she was doing was wrong.
Records show one message reads, “I just want to have fun. All I ask is that you delete everything and don’t tell anyone about it.”
Another message says, “will you please delete the videos.. I can’t believe I sent them.”
“I think she knew how to manipulate and I think that she used that to her advantage,” said the relative about the teacher.
News 13 tried contacting the teacher Thursday, but a voicemail was not returned.
“I blame her because she should know better, she’s the adult, she’s the one who has the authority,” said the relative.
Rio Rancho Police say they’re still investigating and have not filed any charges against the teacher at this point.
News 13 also tried to find out what possible charges she could be facing. Several current and former prosecutors could really only point to one law, “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” which is a felony. However, many prosecutors say that an adult sending their own nude photos to a 17-year-old may be in a legal grey area.
Rio Rancho Police say they are still conducting interviews in the case, but hope to release more information soon.
School District Responds
Friday morning, Rio Rancho Public Schools published its first direct response to the incident. While the district is still refusing to discusses the specifics of the case, the district called the incident “disturbing news” and is appealing to parents and community members for a so-called “call to action.”
The statement, in part, says the district has a “zero tolerance for any form of predatory behavior.” The district is also asking students, parents, staff and community members to do more to report problems faster, and to provide their ideas on how they can better ensure student safety.
“We need to ensure our students feel empowered to report concerns. We need parents to keep open lines of communication with their children-to talk to them at home and monitor their electronic devices and social media accounts. In addition, we need you to let us know how we can do a better job. If you have ideas or suggestions, please share them with us.”–Statement from Rio Rancho Public Schools, Jan. 8, 2015.