A Bethel High School English teacher was arrested on a second-degree rape complaint for allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old student.
A Bethel High School English teacher who reportedly resigned Tuesday was arrested on a second-degree rape complaint for allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old male student. An investigation is ongoing.
Wendy L. Hickman, 40, made her initial video court appearance from the Pottawatomie County Public Safety Center Thursday, where a $25,000 bond was set on a provision she would have no contact with the teen student upon release. Formal charges have not been filed.
According to jail records, Hickman posted bond late Thursday; she is scheduled for further court action on Sept. 6.
Pottawatomie County sheriff’s deputies arrested Hickman at her home after a search warrant was served late Wednesday.
An investigation was launched Tuesday when a Bethel teen and his mother went to the sheriff’s office to make a report for sexual assault.
The teen told Detective Mike Carnell that he had sex with his high school teacher at his home sometime at the end of July, the affidavit shows. He also reported it happened just one time.
According to court documents, Hickman was the teen’s English teacher during the 2011-12 school year.
The teen also reported that Hickman has been sending him text messages and nude pictures of herself from her cell phone.
Detective Carnell, along with investigators Johnny Austin and Amanda Myrko, began investigating the case further and viewed a photo sent to the teen of a nude woman. The person, whose face also was showing in the photograph, was later identified as Hickman, the warrant reads.
Bethel Schools Superintendent Jerry Johnson said Thursday that Hickman taught freshman English but is no longer employed after resigning on Tuesday.
Johnson couldn’t comment on specific personnel issues pertaining to Hickman or the case but said she was beginning her third year as a teacher there.
He said Bethel Schools has always cooperated with law enforcement and will continue to do so as this case is investigated.
“We are a very special school…a tight-knit group — We are Bethel,” Johnson said. “We’ll be unified on how we handle this.”
Pottawatomie County Undersheriff Travis Palmer said the investigators did a tremendous job with their quick work making an arrest and he also praised the school district in how they handled the matter, saying school officials did everything right and have cooperated to the fullest.
Sheriff Mike Booth said investigators took quick action on this case because of Hickman’s position as a teacher and the seriousness of this complaint.
“Our job is to collect evidence and we’re still in the process,” Booth said Thursday.
As part of the investigation, deputies have confiscated Hickman’s cell phone and Shawnee police detectives are now assisting deputies in retrieving messages and photographs from that phone, even those that may have been deleted, Booth said.
And while so far the investigation has centered on alleged activity with the one student, Booth said looking at the evidence, it’s possible there could be instances involving other students.
Anyone who has any information is encouraged to contact deputies, he said.
“We will conduct a very thorough investigation,” Booth said. “Whatever is out there to find we will find.”
Palmer, who said Bethel has fantastic teachers and administrators, said he doesn’t want this case to be a reflection on the school as a whole, although he encourages parents to talk to their children about what’s being sent to them on their cell phones.
If something like this is going on, Booth said a teen isn’t likely to tell their parents so there needs to be an open dialogue.
Once the probe is complete, this case will be turned over to the district attorney’s office for consideration of any formal charges.
Watch for updates.