High school teacher arrested after alleged sexual assault of student
IDAHO FALLS — A local high school teacher was arrested Tuesday after a female student told police she had been sexually abused and harassed by him.
Patrick Todd Smith, 51, teaches at the Technical Careers High School in Bonneville Joint School District 93. He was a Bonneville County Sheriff’s deputy from 2007 to 2011, according to sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Bryan Lovell.
Smith has been charged with felony sexual battery on a minor for behavior with the 17-year-old student that allegedly started with flirty and sexual comments and escalated to unwanted kissing and groping in spring 2019.
The victim gave a forensic interview at the Upper Valley Child Advocacy Center as part of an Idaho State Police investigation into the case. During the interview, the victim described a pattern of sexual harassment. She said Smith, an auto shop teacher, was overly comfortable and flirty with his students, and he would reportedly take everything the students said as sexual, according to court documents.
The victim said the behavior was ignored because it was “normal” for Smith.
The victim said the behavior eventually went beyond sexual comments. She said Smith started with innocent hugging, but one day he reportedly grabbed her, pulled her into his lap and said it wasn’t fair she aroused him and “he had to deal with it all day.”
“Each time Smith came back into the shop, he would take it a step further. … Smith kept saying that his life would be easier if she wasn’t so attractive or if she was 18,” the probable cause reads.
The abuse allegedly escalated to the point where Smith kissed the student and groped her underneath her clothes.
The girl left school for the rest of the day after the encounter and Smith reportedly texted her to ask if she was OK. In text messages viewed by police, the victim responded she was not OK with the touching and that it needed to stop. Smith replied that it was fine, and he would stop.
The next day at school, Smith hugged her and apologized.
But the flirty behavior continued, and Smith would hug the victim even more after she turned 18, according to court documents.
The documents do not give Smith’s side of the story. Smith’s attorney, Shane Reichert, was unavailable for comment.
EastIdahoNews.com will update this story if we receive a statement.
The school district has placed Smith on paid administrative leave. The District 93 school board has also opened its own investigation into Smith. Idaho law prohibits the district disclosing the results of that investigation as it is a personnel matter.
“We are deeply concerned and saddened to learn that a Bonneville School District teacher has been arrested and charged with a crime alleging sexual abuse of a minor,” Bonneville Joint School District 93 spokesman Phil Campbell said in a statement.”A fundamental goal of the district is to ensure the physical and emotional safety of every student entrusted to our care.”
If convicted of felony sexual battery of a minor, Smith could spend up to life in prison.
Smith posted a $10,000 bond after his arrest and was released from jail on Wednesday. A no-contact order has been issued between Smith and the victim.
He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing June 2 at the Bonneville County Courthouse.