ST. JAMES, MO – A 25-year-old special education teacher from St. James, Missouri, Rikki Laughlin, is in hot water after being accused of sharing explicit content with a 16-year-old student and suggesting sexual encounters while her spouse was away, court documents reveal.
The Maries County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation into Laughlin’s activities following an anonymous tip about an inappropriate relationship between her and a student.
The student, in a meeting with Detective Dale Harp on Oct. 20, narrated how Laughlin had made advances and attempted to seduce him. He mentioned that their interaction began on Snapchat and quickly escalated. He even confessed to a kiss they shared within the school building.
According to the court papers, Laughlin allegedly requested explicit photos from the student, who complied twice. He also claimed that Laughlin had sent him explicit photos and videos of herself. She reportedly invited him to her residence for a sexual encounter on Oct. 14 when her husband was not at home. However, the student managed to avoid the meeting, stating he felt uncomfortable.
When rumors about their relationship began to spread within the school, Laughlin allegedly advised the student to delete the explicit content. The student remembered a conversation where Laughlin admitted that her actions could land her in jail.
The student had kept one explicit photo of Laughlin, which he turned over to the detective. Harp interviewed Laughlin at her residence, where she lives with her infant child and husband, on the same day. She confessed to communicating with the student on Snapchat but insisted that he was the one who initiated the contact and that she had tried to terminate the inappropriate relationship several times.
When Harp confronted her with the evidence of explicit photos and videos she had sent to the student, Laughlin claimed she was unaware that the student was a minor. When informed about the legal implications of her actions, she asked for a lawyer.
The investigators allegedly found explicit videos on Laughlin’s phone. She is now charged with possession of child pornography, two counts of tampering, attempted statutory rape, sexual exploitation of a minor, sex trafficking a minor, and providing pornographic materials to a minor, according to the criminal complaint.
Laughlin was released on a $100,000 bond, as per court records. Her lawyer, Timothy Cisar, has chosen not to comment on the case.
The School District Superintendent, Tim Webster, confirmed that Laughlin, who taught juniors at the high school, has been suspended. He emphasized that the district is treating the allegations with utmost seriousness and is fully cooperating with the law enforcement agencies.