A Wisconsin high school teacher shared 67 phone calls with a 17-year-old student as well sending a bunch sexual role playing Facebook messages, according to police. Samantha Fitzpatrick, 28, appeared in court in Fond du Lac on December 6 to answer to charges of sexual assault of a student by school staff, child enticement, exposing a child to harmful material and obstructing an officer.
Fitzpatrick left her English teaching job at Ripon High School in Ripon, Wisconsin, in May 2017. The town is located 70 miles south west of Green Bay. Officials said that Fitzpatrick left her job over issues surrounding her attendance. Fitzpatrick was bailed on December 6 after posting a $1,000 bond. The disgraced teacher will appear in court again for a preliminary hearing on January 5.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Authorities Allege that Fitzpatrick & the Student Had a 6-Month Affair
WBAY reports that cops in Fond du Lac were first tipped off about a rumored affair between Fitzpatrick and the student in April 2017. Another teacher told investigators at the time that she had “noticed” the alleged victim being Fitzpatrick’s class room regularly and that he would sit next to here during class time. A different student had apparently told that teacher that Fitzpatrick had sex with the victim at her home, reports WBAY.
While NBC26 reported that “multiple teachers” told investigators they were suspicious of Fitzpatrick. The Fond du Lac Reporter reports that teachers said the pair were both missing from school on the same day.
While another student told investigators that that he had given the victim a ride to a gas station where Fitzpatrick was going to picking him up, according to the WBAY report. The victim told that student that he had “done stuff” with Fitzpatrick inside of a Comfort Inn and Suites in Ripon. The Fond du Lac Reporter says that the student told authorities during that meeting, Fitzpatrick was drunk while the victim was using marijuana. When Fitzpatrick was questioned about this, she told authorities that she put the victim up in the hotel because she had seen him in smoking marijuana and she didn’t know what to do with him, according to the Reporter.
When the victim was first questioned he said that Fitzpatrick had given him a ride home on numerous occasions and that he had joked about having sex with her among friends, reports WBAY. After further investigation, cops found there had been 67 phone calls between the victim and Fitzpatrick. That was in addition to numerous “sexually graphic messages” that were send via Facebook Messenger. Those messages were sent between November 2016 and May 2017. The content included sexual role play and fantasy. During one conversation, Fitzpatrick declared her love for the student. When first confronted with the allegations by police, the documents said, “Fitzpatrick laughed it off and stated ‘I could see how they would say this,” reports the Ripon Press.
2. Fitzpatrick Resigned in May 2017 Amid ‘Rumors,’ According to Local Media
Fitzpatrick resigned from the school district on May 3, 2017, five weeks before the end of the school year. The Fond du Lac Reporter reports that “rumors started circulating” upon her resignation. In response to the rumors that appeared at the time of her resignation, the school district released a statement reading:
The Ripon Area School District does not typically comment on personnel matters. However, under the circumstances, we think it is important to address some of the inaccurate information and rumors about the recent resignation of Samantha Fitzpatrick from district employment.
She voluntarily resigned from employment effective May 3, 2017, after the administration addressed concerns about her unreliable attendance. Any suggestion that her resignation was based on another reason or that she was fired is simply inaccurate.
The Ripon Press reported that the district released a second statement reiterating that Fitzpatrick had left her job over absenteeism.
In October 2017, the victim went to a party in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, that he was late for, according to a student. That student told authorities that the victim told him his tardiness was because “he was at Fitzpatrick’s and just had sex with her,” reports the Ford du Lac Reporter. An initial investigation by school officials was abandoned due to a lack of evidence.
3. Fitzpatrick Was Married at the Time of the Alleged Assault
The Font Du Lac Reporter says that Fitzpatrick was married at the time of the alleged abuse. The newspaper says that Fitzpatrick lives Oshkosh, Wisconsin. A friend of Fitzpatrick’s told the investigators that the teacher had spoken to her about her marital problems. That friend added that Fitzpatrick confided to her about having sex with someone who wasn’t 18 yet.
4. Fitzpatrick Could Face 35 Years in Prison if Convicted on All Charges
If convicted on all charges, Fitzpatrick could face 35 years in prison in addition to a $130,000 fine, according to Wisconsin state law. Three of the charges she faces are felonies. While out on bail, Fitzpatrick is forbidden from being unsupervised around males under the age of 18 as well as being banned from drinking, reports the Fond du Lac Reporter.
In a letter to parents, the Ripon Area School District said:
In May of 2017, the district shared the attached information with high school parents about an investigation regarding allegations of improper conduct by former employee Samantha Fitzpatrick.
We are sharing this information with all district parents today as we are aware the investigation involving former employee Samantha Fitzpatrick is complete and a criminal complaint with charges has been issued.
We have just received this information and will respond once we have an opportunity to review and understand the criminal complaint.
5. Female Educators Make Up a Small Fraction Teacher/Student Sexual Assault Convictions
Slate reported that female educators make up 4 percent of convicted rapists in teacher/student scandals in 2006. While in 2016, former Department of Education chief of staff, Terry Abbott, wrote in the Washington Post that teacher/student sex scandals were on the rise. For example, in Kentucky in 2011, the state saw the number of teacher/student sexual relationships nearly double.