A South Carolina high school English teacher has been arrested for allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old student.
Anna Elizabeth Jeanette Patton was a first-year teacher in the Darlington County School District in rural South Carolina. According to arrest warrants obtained by SCNow.com, she allegedly sent the teen several sexually-charged messages and nude photos via text and social media platforms. The alleged messages were sent between October 1, 2019 and January 11.
At some point, police allege the relationship turned physical. Police allege Patton had sexual intercourse with the teen, and performed oral sex on the student on multiple occasions.
A Darlington County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson told the New York Post that authorities are not publicly revealing the sex of the unnamed alleged victim.
PEOPLE confirms that Patton has been charged with three felonies: sexual battery with a student 16 or 17 years of age with no aggravated force or coercion; criminal solicitation of a minor; and disseminating harmful material or exhibiting harmful performance to minors.
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According to the warrants issued by the Darlington County Sheriff’s Office, the alleged victim is cooperating with police. Authorities have also taken Patton’s electronic devices as evidence.
In a statement, the school district says officials immediately took action upon learning of the allegations. “The employee has been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation,” Audrey Childers, a spokesperson, wrote in the statement. “The district is cooperating fully with the law enforcement investigation.”
Childers said the safety of the students is the district’s highest priority.
Patton has been released on $7,500 bond. During her initial court appearance on Monday, she was ordered not to contact the alleged victim or the teen’s family. She has also been barred from returning to school grounds.
Patton has not yet entered a plea, and online records do not reflect an attorney authorized to speak on her behalf.