A former teacher’s assistant pleaded guilty this week to having sex with a student who attended the Circle Academy in Urbana, Illinois.
“Allyssa Gustafson, 24, will be sentenced Oct. 30 by Judge Roger Webber, who on Monday accepted her guilty plea to a single count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse,” according to the News-Gazette.
Assistant State’s Attorney Kristin Alferink dismissed a count of criminal sexual assault, adding that she will seek a prison term even though probation was an option.
“Gustafson was charged in November 2019 with engaging in multiple sex acts with the 14-year-old between March 1 and Aug. 30. Alferink said at the time, he was a student at the school, which serves children who have behavioral and emotional challenges,” the Gazette report stated.
The 24-year-old worked at the school between March 4 and September 4, 2019, Circle Academy Director Ginger Mills told WCCU in November.
In a statement, Mills said the academy was “cooperating fully with this investigation and … are offering support to the student and family”:
At Cunningham, our highest priority will always be the well-being and safety of our students. In our schools, we strive to provide a supportive environment conducive to learning. We conduct extensive background checks on all of our employees and we have verified that all appropriate background checks were completed in this case.
“According to the State’s Attorney, messages regarding the relationship between Gustafson and a 14-year-old boy were found by authorities. She also allegedly sent photos to the teen of herself in lingerie and a swimsuit,” the WCCU article continued.
The two reportedly communicated via Facebook Messenger and Snapchat, and Gustafson later told the teen to delete their conversations and that she had to block him, according to Alferink.
The boy’s mother filed a civil suit against Cunningham Children’s Home and Circle Academy in February, Fox Illinois reported.
The suit claimed “willful negligence and disregard for her son’s welfare” and sought $5 million in damages.
Gustafson allegedly had sex with the 14-year-old at his own home, the Fox article concluded.