LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — A Lee’s Summit teacher and coach is on leave as a result of an ongoing sex abuse investigation.
Lee’s Summit School District told FOX4 that Jessica Rathbun worked as a paraprofessional and assistant soccer coach for men’s and women’s teams at Lee’s Summit North High School. The investigation started after allegations surfaced that she sent sexually explicit messages to students online.
Records from the investigation by Missouri’s Department of Social Services allege Rathbun sent photos to a 16-year-old boy in a bra, underwear, and exposing her body.
“It’s all awful. Mentor sex abuse really creates problems for the victims because they feel that betrayal. It’s a double whammy for them when they realize number one, they’ve been a victim of sex abuse because they don’t know it at the time. And then number two it came from somebody they trusted,” said Danny Thomas, attorney with Humphrey, Farrington & McClain.
Thomas is representing one teen who says he got the explicit images and messages including an offer for sex through Snapchat. This state report shows Rathbun added the victim as a friend to her social media back in September and inappropriate messages were sent through February.
Thomas is stunned by public backlash, propelling what he calls a double standard.
“It will cause shame. It will cause guilt. He may believe it was his fault because he is a boy. He may not understand he can be groomed and manipulated by a woman. That’s real societal problem and one I’ve had with male sex abuse victims being terrified to come forward,” Thomas said.
Lee’s Summit Schools won’t say when it became aware of the allegations but the state only began its inquiry in March, months after the messages started.
Lee’s Summit Police were looped in by the state at the same time, and last month, turned the case over to prosecutors.
In a statement, the district said: “Lee’s Summit R-7 Schools’ main priority is the safety and well-being of our students. Any and all allegations received by the district are taken seriously and investigated in accordance with district policies and procedures. These policies require us to follow the Title IX regulations adopted last year by the U.S. Department of Education. The district must ensure that the process spelled out by those regulations is completed or waived before it takes further action.”
Thomas is convinced there are likely many more victims who haven’t yet come forward.
“They’re not going to get in trouble, they’re victims, and we need them because we need to know how far this went if we want to really get to the root of this —we need to know who knew what when,” he said.
Rathbun is on administrative leave from her job at LSR7. Her professional profile shows she’s also worked with several youth soccer clubs in Kansas City, but we’ve confirmed she left her most recent outside job two years ago.