A special education teacher who loved horses has been arrested for having sex with a male high school student in Arkansas as parents claim the district was aware of the alleged sexual encounters for months. Kara Lee, 26, was arrested on Thursday and faces charges of three counts of first-degree sexual assault and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Evidence indicates that Lee engaged in "inappropriate physical touching and sexual intercourse" with a student at Cross County High School in Cherry Valley, according to the authorities in Cross County. The school district launched an investigation after reaching out to the Arkansas Child Maltreatment Hotline, which led to Lee's arrest.
Residents in the local community claimed that the school district was aware of the relationship for several months. They also said that the minor involved in the case is not a student in the special education program.
"I've heard that they have been interfering with each other for a while now and that the students knew about and told the school, but they didn't take no action," a resident who asked to remain anonymous told K8 News.
Lee was released from jail on Friday after posting a $40,000 bond. Following her release, she resigned from her position at the high school.
"The Cross County School District has a zero-tolerance policy for inappropriate relationships between educators and students and will continue using its best efforts to provide students with a safe and healthy educational environment," Nathan Morris, the Cross County Superintendent of Schools, said in a statement.
The Crimes Against Children division reported that Lee was involved in sexual acts with the student in November and December. The specific locations of these encounters have not been disclosed.
"It makes me sad, it also makes me feel angry." Madisyn Hill, a local parent told WREG.
"I have siblings that go to the school and they basically just said that it happened and this kid was emailing with her or chatting with her somehow, and it just kept occurring."
Behind the Mask
Reporters from WREG tried to contact Lee at her home, but nobody answered the door. A fellow Cherry Valley resident, Matt Jarvis, mentioned that he knew the teacher from their upbringing. Jarvis added that he was aware of Lee being a 'straight A student' in both high school and college.
Lee's Facebook page indicates that she has a strong passion for horses, as numerous pictures feature her engaging in horse riding activities.
"My two forever men: 13 years and 4 years," Lee wrote in one post where she posed with horses.
According to her Facebook profile, Lee's mother is also employed by the Cross County School District, serving as the General Business Manager and District Treasurer.
"I understand being close and having bonds with students, but I feel like they should be monitored, obviously, for certain reasons," Hill said.
Lee is scheduled to appear in court on January 9 in Wynne, Arkansas. Authorities have said that the investigation is ongoing. Cherry Valley, where the incident occurred, is a rural community with approximately 556 residents.