A Mission Viejo middle-school teacher who saw the allegations that she committed lewd acts with a student dropped in criminal court spoke out Monday to share her side of the story, nearly a year after the case was first made public.
Kristen Roush, a teacher at La Paz Intermediate School, was arrested on Oct. 24, 2014, at her Aliso Viejo home and held on suspicion of lewd and lascivious acts with a child.
Roush had just pulled into the garage with her youngest daughter, who was in preschool at the time, when investigators suddenly appeared.
“Three men showed up behind my car at the garage and said they needed to talk to me and that I needed to call someone to take my child,” Roush said. According to the 35-year-old mother of two, the detectives threatened to call child protective services if she didn’t call someone first.
Roush’s arrest followed a monthslong investigation into her interactions with a 15-year-old boy whose parents told authorities they believed the relationship was inappropriate. Evidence on her cellphone linked her to the child, the Sheriff’s Department said at the time of her arrest.
The student accused her of kissing him, the Orange County Register reported.
Speaking to KTLA on Monday, Roush denied any inappropriate contact with the teenager or with any other student. Roush claimed the student’s mother jumped to conclusions when she gave the boy a ride home.
“He got out of the car and she said, ‘you are not supposed to be with her,'” Roush told KTLA. “I said I was under the impression he had permission and she said ‘kids lie all the time.'”
Roush said she had her own two children in the car at the time.
The boy’s mother called 911, which Roush and her attorney claimed led to innocent gestures being misinterpreted as criminal.
“The most contact Kristen had with her students, and it was more than one, were hugs, innocent hugs,” said attorney David Wohl.
At her arraignment in November, Roush was supported by her husband, with whom she has two children, and her parents and former co-workers.
Then, this July, she took a plea deal, agreeing to admit to one misdemeanor charge of battery on school property. All felony counts of lewd acts were dismissed, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said.
On Sept. 18, she was sentenced to three years of formal probation for the misdemeanor charge. Roush said the battery charge was for one of those hugs.
As part of the plea deal, Roush agreed to resign her teaching position, according to the prosecutor in the case.
“There was no way for her to ever go back,” her attorney, David Wohl, told the newspaper. “She’s basically weighing her options. She’s a very smart woman, and she has great family support and has weathered this fairly well. She knew she was innocent.”
Roush said she took the plea deal to spare her family the expense of a trial and to protect those who believed in her from being dragged into court.