A day after Redlands, Calif., police said they had arrested a local teacher accused of having a baby with a teen student, a man has come forward saying he he too had a sexual relationship with her while he was a pupil.
Michael Cooper, now 23, approached news media to share a story of his junior year in high school, in 2007. Though he said he did not feel victimized, Cooper hoped his account would encourage other potential victims to come forward.
Cooper said he had a physical relationship with Laura Elizabeth Whitehurst, pictured in a 2013 yearbook photo below, who herself was 23 at the time of the affair he described.
"I didn't feel like a victim; I'm not scarred for life or anything,” Cooper told NBC4. “To be honest, I had a good time when it was going on."
Whitehurst is accused of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, and authorities said Tuesday that she gave birth last month to a baby fathered by the alleged victim. A teacher at Citrus Valley High School in Redlands, Whitehurst was arrested Monday, Redlands police said Tuesday.
She was arrested after the victim’s mother reported the alleged relationship to the Redlands Unified School District, which notified police. The school district on Tuesday said the teacher involved in the investigation had been placed on leave; the district did not give Whitehurst’s name.
On Wednesday, San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos told NBC4 he had a prosecutor assigned to the case who was working with the Redlands Police Department.
Ramos urged those who believe they were victims to contact Redlands police.
"Some of the information we’re gathering, there’s possibility that that has been occurring for several years," Ramos said of Whitehurst.
"The investigation has just started," Ramos added. "Right now, my biggest concern is victims, and how many victims are out there."
Cooper described an affair he said occurred when he was a student at Redlands High School. He said Whitehurst was a teacher at the campus at that time.
He said that a fall assignment in Whitehurst’s English course on dreams led her to tell him after class that she had dreamt about kissing him in the mountains on a field trip.
Two days later, Cooper said, they kissed in her classroom.
"When it happens, you're kind of like, all right, this is pretty badass. You know, my teacher is into me," he said. "I was 17 and I was having a good time is what it was."
A couple of weeks later, she invited him to her apartment, he said. He spent the night, and after that, they saw each other a few times a month, he said.
"It's not like we went out to movies or dinner or anything," he said. "There wasn't a thought of, 'I'm going to get in trouble' or 'Should I say something?' It's more of like, 'Holy cow, this hot teacher is into me.'"
Toward the end of the school year, he began to feel guilty because he had had a school-age girlfriend during the alleged affair with Whitehurst, Cooper said. He stopped returning the teacher’s texts and calls, and eventually they broke the affair off amicably, he said.
Cooper said he got a C+ in the English class, adding he felt that he did not receive special treatment from Whitehurst.