Colorado teacher Lauren Redfern faces felony charge for alleged relationship with student
Aspen, Colorado - An arrest warrant was issued Wednesday for a Basalt High School teacher and coach who allegedly had a sexual relationship with a student that started in the fall.
Lauren Redfern, 26, of El Jebel, was expected to turn herself into authorities last night or this morning on one felony count of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust with a pattern of sexual abuse.
Redfern is accused of having a relationship with a male student who was in a physical education class the teacher taught, said Undersheriff Mike McWilliam of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.
The alleged sexual acts happened at the El Jebel home of the victim, who was 17 at the time and has since turned 18, and at Redfern’s home, McWilliam said. Both residences are in unincorporated Eagle County, putting the case in the jurisdiction of the sheriff’s office.
Sheriff’s investigators began looking into the allegations after Basalt High officials alerted them Friday about the relationship, McWilliam said.
“The school [officials] discovered it themselves,” he said, declining to elaborate.
McWilliam said no incidents happened at the school, but he would not say how the relationship came to light.
Hearing: Redfern posted a reduced bond of $5,000 Thursday after her hearing with a judge
The relationship lasted about four months, and involved at least two incidents, sexual in nature, that police believe constituted criminal activity.
McWilliam said Redfern’s job was the key factor in issuing the warrant. Without the teacher-student connection, the relationship between Redfern and the teen would be legal, McWilliam said.
Under Colorado law, the age of consent for sex is 17, and a person 15 to 17 years old can consent to sex with someone who is up to 10 years older.
But Redfern is to be charged with the felony because she was in a position of trust as a teacher, McWilliam said, adding that the law’s aim is to avoid sexual relationships between students and teachers.
Redfern, a former standout basketball player for Basalt High before graduating in 2004, was hired in 2010 at the school as a substitute teacher and the junior varsity coach of the girls basketball team.
She was eventually promoted to head varsity coach and was teaching a health class before she was put on paid administrative leave late last week.
Judy Haptonstall, superintendent of the Roaring Fork School District, said Wednesday she was “certainly shocked” when she learned about the allegation last week.
The decision to put Redfern on leave was immediate, she said.
Mark Hurlbert, district attorney for the 5th Judicial District, said the charge of sexual abuse on a child by one in a position of trust carries a prison term of four to 16 years upon conviction.
McWilliam said the decision to allow Redfern to turn herself in stemmed from a discussion with her attorney.
“We have no indication that she is a flight risk,” he said.
Redfern will be held without bond until she appears before a judge.
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