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Lake Charles, Louisiana teacher Deidre Rae Smith, 34, has been charged with having inappropriate sexual contact with a 10-year-old student from Lake Charles Charter Academy, the school where she is employed. An investigation revealed that the third-grade teacher had intercourse with a student.
“An allegation of staff misconduct was received by Lake Charles Charter Academy. We take any allegations of staff misconduct very seriously,” Judge Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux said in a statement to television station KPLC about the case. Thibodeaux is president of the Lake Charles Charter Academy Foundation’s Board of Trustees. “The allegation is being investigated. The allegation has not been verified to be true. If verified that teacher will be subject to termination. The safety and security of our students and staff are our top priority,” Thibodeaux said.
According to Thibodeaux, the school “promptly took steps to contact authorities,” adding that the investigation is incomplete and ongoing.
Here’s what you need to know about Deidre Smith.
1. Authorities Say Smith Had Been Having Inappropriate Contact with the Boy Since 2018
Authorities were initially contacted on April 30 to investigate Smith for possible inappropriate behavior with a 10-year-old student from Lake Charles Charter Academy. “During the initial investigation detectives learned Smith was having inappropriate contact with the boy since the end of 2018. It was also learned Smith had sexual intercourse with the victim,” the Calcasieu Parrish Sheriff’s Office reported on their Facebook page. It was determined that the incidents had not occurred on school property.
Lake Charles Charter Academy is a tuition-free public charter school with students in grades k-8 from Calcasieu Parrish. The school was opened in 2011 and is part of the Charter Schools USA education management company. Its website says it provides a “research-based curriculum” that offers foreign language, art and music instruction. The school is governed by the Lake Charles Charter Academy Foundation, Inc., “a non-profit entity organized exclusively for educational purposes and is comprised of respected leaders in the Lake Charles community.”
2. Smith Is Facing Felony Counts of Rape and Indecent Behavior
Calcascieu Parish Sheriffs OfficeBooking report for Deidre Smith.
According to the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office, Smith has been charged with First Degree Rape and Indecent Behavior with Juveniles. Records show that she was arrested on April 30 at 4:41 p.m. and released at 9:10 p.m. the same evening. Bail was set at $35,000 for the rape charge and $15,000 for the indecent behavior charge by Judge Robert Wyatt.
Should the district attorney seek a capital verdict, a conviction of first degree rape with a child under the age of 13 can “be punished by death or life imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence, in accordance with the determination of the jury.”
The charge of “Indecent Behavior with Juveniles” is described as any “lewd or lascivious act” with a child under the age of 17, if the person committing the crime is more than two years older than the victim. “Lewd and lascivious acts” can include sexual touching or sexual displays. It can include the “transmission, delivery or utterance of any textual, visual, written, or oral communication depicting lewd or lascivious conduct, text, words, or images.” A conviction can be punished by “imprisonment at hard labor for not less than two nor more than twenty-five years.”
3. An Administrator Contacted Authorities After Suspecting Inappropriate Behavior
A Lake Charles Charter Academy administrator contacted authorities on April 30 with suspicions of inappropriate behavior. No information has been made public regarding what the administrator revealed to police.
According to the Lake Charles Charter Academy Student Handbook, Louisiana state law requires teachers, administrators, and other school personnel to report suspected cases of abuse, abandonment or neglect to the Department of Children and Family Services(DCFS) hotline.
Under Louisiana law, teachers, or “any person who provides or assists in the teaching, training and supervision of a child” are mandated to report child abuse. One of the DCFS’ definitions of “abuse” includes “the involvement of the child in any sexual act with a parent or any other person.”
4. Smith Is Married and the Mother of Three Children
Facebook posts by Deidre Smith show that she is married and the mother of a girl and two boys. Smith lives in Sulfur, Louisiana, approximately 20 miles east of the Texas border.
Smith’s LinkedIn page shows that she has been employed by Charter Schools USA as a third-grade teacher since 2012. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2008 from McNeese State University. In 2015 she received her master’s degree in teaching and completed an Alternative Teacher Education Program at the same university. Her Louisiana state teaching license is current through 2023 and permits her to teach elementary grades 1-5.
5. Female Teachers Who Commit Student Sexual Abuse are Likely to Re-Offend
While women account for less than 10% of sex crimes, it’s believed this number is underestimated. Female sex offenders are typically white, have prior substance abuse problems and have been victims of sexual abuse.
In the paper, “Lessons to Learn: Female Educators Who Sexually Abuse Their Students,” researchers looked at several studies and discovered that women educators who have sexual relationships with elementary-age children are typically high achievers in their field in their 20s or 30s. “The educators may use this positive standing to become close to students (and their families) and increase their ability to surreptitiously engage in sexual relationships with the children,” The paper goes on to say that “these educators also have the potential to serially reoffend when they move to another location if they are relieved of their present teaching position.”
The paper revealed that female teachers who sexually abuse children often have advanced training and are well-liked. These factors result in greater trust among their peers and parents which provides greater access to students. “The educators may use this positive standing to become close to students (and their families) and increase their ability to surreptitiously engage in sexual relationships with the children,” the paper said.
“Victims may suffer from a sense of betrayal, given that the abuse was perpetrated by someone whom they were encouraged to trust,” the paper says, adding that children who are sexually abused by their teacher may be more prone to depression, diminished self-esteem and thoughts of suicide.