Jessica Benton is under arrest for allegedly carrying on a long sexual relationship an 11-year-old boy, and the teacher’s aide has a controversial excuse for her behavior: she didn’t know it was against the rules.
The 26-year-old Texas woman was arrested this week and accused of having sex with the 11-year-old boy on a number of occasions over the last four months, Fox 11 reported. Police said that Benton admitted to the encounters, which reportedly took place inside her home during sleepovers.
Benton works as a teacher’s aide in the kindergarten class at Tisinger Elementary School in Mesquite, but the alleged sex acts took place with a boy who is not a student in her school. Police said the victim was a family friend who often stayed over at the Benton home.
Jessica Benton has been separated from her husband and living in a home with several young children, Fox 11 reported. The alleged affair was noticed by another person in Benton’s home who then alerted authorities, police said.
“We were first notified by an adult whose child had observed some behavior that they didn’t think was quite right,” said Mesquite Police Lt. Brian Parrish. “When the child went to the mother, the mother agreed it didn’t seem right and brought it to our attention.”
Police investigated the allegations and said they do not believe there are any other victims, NBCDFW.com reported. None of the incidents took place within the school where Benton taught, they added.
As Fox 11 noted, Jessica Benton had a strange excuse for having sex with the 11-year-old boy.
“Benton allegedly told investigators that she thought she could have a long-term relationship with the victim. There were even rumors that she was pregnant with his child, but police said a pregnancy test came back negative.”
The report claimed that police had initially charged Benton with aggravated sexual assault of a child but that the charge was later upgraded to continuous sexual assault of a child.
Benton’s arrest came after another high-profile teacher arrest. In Alabama, police arrested 33-year-old Charlaina Wilson for allegedly having sex with a student at her school. The relationship came to light after police received reports of an explicit video showing Wilson in a solo sex act, with the investigation then leading them to the alleged relationship, WALB News reported.
Police said some of the sexual encounters took place on school grounds, adding that it was a particularly disturbing incident.
“Unfortunately, this is starting not to be a rare occurrence around here. This is one of the worst violations of the public trust when a teacher has sex with a student,” said District Attorney Michael Jackson (via the Selma Times Journal).
Wilson resigned from her teaching position after the charges came forward.
“Once the incident was reported, swift and immediate action was taken to remove the teacher from the school to ensure the safety of students,” said Selma City Schools Superintendent Angela Mangum. “As the superintendent, it is my responsibility to protect all students from harm. I will not tolerate any misconduct towards students, and I will promptly act in their defense.”
In another case gaining national attention, 37-year-old teacher Brittan Ann Bell was arrested on a charge of misdemeanor cruelty to children after allegedly dragging an autistic boy down a set of steps and then throwing the boy to the ground, the Daily Mail reported.
The woman’s South Carolina school also came under scrutiny after the principal collected statements from witnesses but did not report the incident to police until two days after being notified.
“This principal has been instructed that in the future, without exception, she must report an incident requiring a law enforcement investigation the day she is notified, and her failure to do so has been addressed,” the Greenville County School District said in a statement.
Jessica Benton remains in jail on $1 million bond for charges that she had sex with the 11-year-old boy, Fox 6 Now reported. She has also been placed on leave by the Mesquite Independent School District.
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]