Iowa Teacher Arrested for Sexually Abusing Student in Class, Celebrating Anniversaries with Him During Inappropriate Relationship

Rachel Elizabeth Whiteside
Rachel Elizabeth Whiteside Polk County Jail

An Ankeny middle school teacher was arrested and placed on administrative leave Wednesday morning for an alleged inappropriate relationship with a student that lasted for several years.

Rachel Elizabeth Whiteside, 34, who was listed on the Ankeny Community School District's website as a math teacher at Northview Middle School, was charged with sexual abuse, four counts of sexual exploitation by a school employee, and lascivious conduct with a minor, as reported by the Des Moines Register.

Whiteside and the Student Had Years-Long Relationship, Engaged in Sexual Intercourse in Classroom

The investigation began when a district employee alerted the Ankeny Police Department about allegations of an inappropriate sexual relationship between Whiteside, who also is a softball coach, and a former student that began in 2015, the police department said in a statement.

The relationship had continued for several years and the victim recently reported it to school officials, police said.

Whiteside allegedly groomed the student and carried on a multi-year sexual relationship that started when the victim was 14 years old, according to an application for a search warrant filed in court records. The relationship continued until the victim was 23 and included instances of sexual intercourse in Whiteside's classroom, according to the allegation the victim submitted to the school district.

Whiteside Wished Victim 'Happy Anniversary' via Email
, Bought Him Gifts

An email with the words "Happy Anniversary" that Whiteside sent to the victim on Jan. 14, 2022, confirmed that the relationship had started seven years before when the victim was in 9th grade, according to court documents.

Whiteside had used her role as a teacher and coach to make the student share intimate life details, according to a criminal complaint. Whiteside also provided gifts to the victim throughout their relationship.

She also kept photographs of the victim in her classroom, and had kept a note written by the victim when she was a student in middle or high school in her desk drawer, according to court documents.

School District Says it was 'Shocked and Disappointed' by Allegations in Notice to Parents

The Ankeny Community School District sent a notice to parents early Wednesday morning about the arrest. It did not name Whiteside or list the charges.

"In any misconduct allegation, we are shocked and disappointed when the highest standards of education are not met, and the critical work of educating students is undermined," the district said in the statement.

Whiteside has been put on administrative leave pending the investigation, district officials said in an email to the Des Moines Register. She turned herself in on Wednesday morning at the Ankeny Police Department and was transported to the Polk County Jail.

The court ordered Whiteside to have no contact with the victim or anyone else under the age of 18. She is being held on a $100,000 bond and will have her first hearing on March 1.