A teacher’s assistant in Champaign, Illinois, has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a student at the special education school where she worked.
Police believe Allyssa Gustafson, 24, a special needs teacher’s assistant, abused the boy, 14, on at least five occasions from March to August of 2019 while employed at CIRCLE Academy in Urbana, according to The News-Gazette.
Gustafson not only engaged in sex acts with the teen boy, but also sent him photos of herself wearing lingerie and swimsuits, WAND reported.
The mother-of-one on Tuesday pleaded guilty to a single count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, in relation to a sexual encounter that took place at the student’s home.
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.Former teaching assistant at Circle Academy admits sex with 14-year-old student
This was in exchange for a more serious count of criminal sexual assault being dismissed by Assistant State’s Attorney Kristin Alferink, according to The News-Gazette.
Suspicions that the special needs teacher’s assistant abused the boy were first raised in late 2019.
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Police investigating the allegations discovered messages between Gustafson and her student on Facebook Messenger and Snapchat, in some of which she expressed her fear that others at CIRCLE Academy could find out the special needs teacher’s assistant abused him.
Also uncovered were photographs Gustafson had sent to the 14-year-old of herself posing in swimsuits and underwear.
A former teaching assistant at Circle Academy in Urbana has pleaded guilty to having sex with a student there. 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.Former teaching assistant at Circle Academy admits sex with 14-year-old student
The last messages Gustafson sent the student before it became public that the special needs teacher’s assistant abused him included instructions to destroy all evidence of their inappropriate encounters.
Disturbingly, when the boy’s mother was shown pictures of Gustafson, she said she recognized the woman from visiting their home – but she had thought she was a high school senior, The News-Gazette reported.
Director of Circle Academy, Ginger Mills, told WICS that Gustafson has passed all required background checks before she was employed at the school, which is for K-12 students who “have unique behavioral and emotional challenges that have prevented them from being successful in a public school environment,” according to its website.
“We are cooperating fully with this investigation and we are offering support to the student and family,” Mills said in November last year, when charges were laid after it was revealed the special needs teacher’s assistant abused the student.
“We are cooperating fully with this investigation and we are offering support to the student and family. At Cunningham, our highest priority will always be the well-being and safety of our students …We conduct extensive background checks on all of our employees and we have verified that all appropriate background checks were completed in this case.Former Circle Academy TA accused of having sex with student
“We conduct extensive background checks on all of our employees and we have verified that all appropriate background checks were completed in this case,” she said, per WICS.
An attorney for the special needs teacher’s assistant, who abused the trust of so many, is seeking probation and community service for his client.
But according to The News-Gazette, Assistant State’s Attorney Kristin Alferink is requesting a prison term.
In Illinois, penalties for sexual abuse of a minor range from four to 15 years in prison.
She said police learned Gustafson and the teen talked through Facebook Messenger and Snapchat, and she allegedly sent him pictures to him with her wearing lingerie and a swimsuit. She later sent a message saying he needed to delete their conversations and told him she had to block him, per Alferink.Former educator accused of sexually assaulting teen student