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Lexington School Teacher Who Fled With 13-year-old Student to Return to Face Kidnap Charges

by Gopalan on November 9, 2007 at 12:01 PM
Lexington School Teacher Who Fled With 13-year-old Student to Return to Face Kidnap Charges

The life of 25-year-old Lexington school teacher Kelsey Peterson is unravelling fast.

She had fled to Mexico with a 13-year-old eighth grader, triggering a scandal in the US and was finally apprehended Friday last.

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A federal magistrate judge in El Centro, California, denied her bail Wednesday, saying she might flee, and she agreed to be sent to Nebraska to face charges of kidnapping, child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor in the state of Nebraska, where Lexington is situated.

Her flame, Fernando Rodriguez, has been quoted as saying that he is willing to testify in US court.

To compound her misery, her school authorities have initiated steps to formally sack her from a job she has held four years now.
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At the court, Peterson showed no emotion except for a weak smile for her lawyer as she left the courtroom. The attorney, Diane Regan, declined to comment on the charges to reporters but described Peterson as congenial and "a bit na´ve. "

Diane Regan, Peterson's court-appointed attorney, argued unsuccessfully to have bail set at $100,000.

The defense attorney declined to comment after the hearing, but she described her client as congenial but "a bit naive.''

"Her family is behind her 100 percent,'' Regan had told the judge.

She also faces federal charges of transporting a minor across state lines or a foreign border for sexual activity, U.S. Attorney Joe Stecher said.

Peterson, a sixth-grade math teacher and basketball coach at the Lexington Middle School, fled with Rodriguez after police began investigating whether the pair had an intimate relationship.

An international hunt was under way after Peterson's car was spotted crossing into Mexico.

They were taken into custody without incident after the boy's relatives told police he had called home asking for money, leading investigators to a shopping mall in the border city of Mexicali.

The Mexican official who captured the two with the aid of a GPS-enabled cell phone said the boy shed no tears while Peterson wept as the two parted Friday night at the police station.

"She said to the youngster that she loved him and would always love him in her heart," said Alfredo Arenas Moreno of the Baja California state police.

Arenas said the woman admitted having a sexual relationship with the boy but felt it was unfair that she would be branded a predator and separated from her 8-year-old daughter.

"She said her life was basically over, but if she had a chance to do things differently she wouldn't," he told the news agency AP.

Peterson was turned over to the FBI early Saturday. The boy was turned over to relatives in Mexicali because he was an illegal immigrant in the United States and was not allowed to return, Arenas said.

Rodriguez told the agency in Mexico he and his former sixth-grade teacher had had sex "maybe twice,'' even though he considered Peterson his "best friend'' and not his girlfriend.

"It didn't happen that many times,'' Fernando said during an interview Tuesday at a family friend's home in Janitzio, Mexico, where he is staying temporarily.

He had been sent to a state boy's home in Nebraska last December after being deemed an uncontrollable juvenile.

"I had problems in Lexington, and I wanted to get away, but it was a bad idea,'' he said of fleeing with Peterson. "Now I can't go back.''"I had problems in Lexington and I wanted to get away, but it was a bad idea," he said. "Now I can't go back."

The boy spoke flawless English; his Spanish is limited. He said that he would prefer to live in the United States, where he shared a home in Lexington with his mother, her boyfriend and two U.S.-born brothers, ages 1 and 16.

"Life is harder (in Mexico),'' Fernando said. "I really don't know anything.

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