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She had sex with a student while teaching at Puyallup high school. Here’s her sentence

In World
June 04, 2024

A 31-year-old former Puyallup Christian high school teacher was sentenced Friday to six months of house arrest for having a sexual relationship with a student.

Lindsey M. Westerfield pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor for having sex with a student in spring 2019 while she was employed at Cascade Christian High School. According to court documents, Puyallup detectives began investigating her that year, but the case stalled until 2022 when investigators learned Westerfield was seeking employment on the state’s charter school commission, and the victim disclosed new details to authorities.

As part of her sentence, Westerfield will be required to register as a sex offender for 10 years and must undergo related treatment for four years and six months. She was ordered to have no contact with the victim and is barred from holding any position with supervision of minors under age 13.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Timothy Ashcraft handed down the punishment as part of a 54-month suspended sentence. Westerfield had no prior criminal convictions.

Two of the sexual encounters Westerfield was charged with occurred after the now-23-year-old victim’s 18th birthday, according to court documents. State law prohibits sexual conduct between students under 21 and school employees who are at least five years older.

Westerfield resigned from her position with Cascade Christian Schools shortly after the Puyallup Police Department began investigating the allegations in summer 2019. According to charging documents, family friends of the defendant told police that her husband made comments about Westerfield having a relationship with a student.

The teacher and student communicated on Snapchat and met up at each other’s houses and in parking garages, once on the night of the high school’s junior-senior ball, records state. None of their encounters occurred on school grounds.

When detectives first contacted the student, who was then 18, he reported he had an emotional relationship with Westerfield but declined to talk about any sexual activity.

The investigation remained open for more than three years before the student provided further information. During that time, the student’s father told police the relationship had started up and ended multiple times. At one point, the victim dropped out of college to get a job to support Westerfield.

In August 2022, an investigator from the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction contacted Puyallup police after learning Westerfield was trying to get a job with the state Charter School Commission, which authorizes charter schools statewide. Three months later, the OSPI investigator told Puyallup police that Westerfield had surrendered her education license and been fired.

A Puyallup detective contacted the victim’s father the day they learned Westerfield had been fired. The father said his son, who was back in college studying psychology, might be willing to provide more details about Westerfield. In an interview with detectives, the student described multiple sexual encounters with Westerfield and the steps they took to keep their meetings secret, such as turning off their phones so no one could see their location.

He said he was “pretty horrified” looking back, realizing how a parent or other school officials would view the relationship. He said he blocked communications with Westerfield after ending the relationship in fall 2020.

“It’s school. It’s not a dating pool, you’re there to learn. You’re vulnerable, your mind still has so much to learn and develop,” he said. “That’s the whole point of school.”

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