Beaumont, CA – A 32-year-old teacher from Beaumont High School pleaded guilty to having sex with an underage student on Thursday as part of plea deal that will keep the mother of two from doing actual jail time.
Former English teach Samantha Ciotta pleaded guilty to three felony counts of unlawful intercourse with a minor on May 10, the Banning Patch reported.
Ciotta was sentenced to 180 days in a sheriff's work release program and four years’ probation.
Her probation terms included a protective order that prohibited all contact with the student for the next 10 years, The Press-Enterprise reported.
Ciotta was initially arrested in September of 2017 after a Snapchat video of her partying with two students became a hot topic of gossip at the high school, the Banning Patch reported.
According to one of the arrest warrants, the investigation began after a relative of the 16-year-old male victim sent a text message asking if the rumors were true, and received a strange reply, which turned out to be from Ciotta’s husband.
He was trying to figure out what was going on between the student and his wife, the Banning Patch reported.
The boy's relative went to the police and said she thought Ciotta's husband was using the boy's iPhone, public records show.
The text from the husband stated that he "needed to know the extent of what happened … I deserve that much. I'm not mad at [the boy]. Not even a little bit,” the Banning Patch reported.
Initially, the teen denied the relationship with Ciotta when he was questioned. However, he stopped covering for his teacher-girlfriend after he found out she also had sex with his 19-year-old friend, The Press-Enterprise reported.
The Banning Patch reported that Ciotta told people herchild victim "had ruined her life," according to documents filed in support of a search warrant.
The teenage boy eventually told police he had sex with the married English teacher at least five times, but said he didn’t remember exactly how many times because he was usually under the influence during their sexual encounters, public records showed.
During their investigation into the teacher’s relationship with the underage student, Beaumont police served no less than seven search warrants, according to documents obtained by the Banning Patch.
Police searched Ciotta's home, and swabbed her SUV for DNA samples. Investigators also combed through the teacher’s cell phone.
Ciotta’s guilty plea came right after her now-17-year-old victim filed a lawsuit against Beaumont Unified School District, Beaumont High School Principal Christina Pierce, and Vice Principal Ian Young that alleged the sexual abuse had been reported to school administrators by his guardian and at least one other teacher, but nothing was done to intervene, the Banning Patch reported.
Attorneys for the victim said school administrators ignored several "red flags… showing that the relationship between Ms. Ciotta and our client was becoming inappropriate."
“There's likely to be more information that comes out, but it is clear that there were unusual things happening where he was not going to other classes and spending virtually the entire school day in her classroom," Attorney Roger Booth told the Banning Patch. "In our view the school district let him down; given the tough life he had, this is not what he needed from his high school experience."
In the meantime, Ciotta must report to the sheriff’s department by June 8 to begin her work release, according to John Hall of the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
The former teacher has lost her teaching license, and her husband filed for divorce in October of 2017, the Banning Patch reported.
To satisfy her plea agreement, Ciotta must complete approximately six months in a work-release "alternative to jail" program run by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, and do 90 hours of community service.
Additionally, the judge ordered that Ciotta may "have no contact with any unrelated minors via any form of social media," the district attorney’s office told the Banning Patch.
Ciotta told the Banning Patch she was relieved to have the case over with, and sent them a statement via text that indicated she was concentrating on moving forward.
“There are so many facets to this story-- most of which were created by rumors and the media. I have learned a lot throughout the year-- more about myself and more about those who have committed their loyalty to me from the start-- with no questions asked. I would do anything to keep my children safe and by my side, even if that means sacrificing my words and becoming silent when all I really wanted to do was tell my story," Ciotta wrote.
“I have a long journey ahead of me-- one that requires the love and support from those who have surrounded me, as well starting an entirely new life with my children. My family and friends' strengths continue to prevail and I am beyond thankful for their love and support. I do pray for ALL of those who were involved in the case. I will take what has happened and use the experiences and lessons learned to give back to the community,” the former teacher continued.
“At the end of the day, we all bleed red-- we are all human. At the end of the day, I would hope that we all have positive intentions in and throughout our daily lives,” Ciotta finished.