Fort Worth teacher in sex case cited pregnancy when resigning

FORT WORTH -- A teacher accused of having sex with students at Carter-Riverside High School told district officials that she resigned because she was concerned about her pregnancy, according to documents the Star-Telegram obtained Thursday.

Jennifer L. Riojas, 25, was arrested by Fort Worth police Wednesday on a warrant accusing her of having sex with a student starting last year, when he was 16. She faces a charge of sexual assault of a child under 17.

Riojas, who was released from jail on bail Wednesday, could not be reached for comment.

But in statements made to Fort Worth school district officials, Riojas denied having sexual relationships with students and said she was resigning because of health concerns.

"I am resigning after careful thought due to increased stress on my health and pregnancy because of current working conditions. ... I do not believe that at this stage in my life, secondary education is my calling," she wrote in her resignation letter Oct. 21.

The week before, two female students told a high school official that they were concerned that Riojas was engaged in sexual relationships with male students, according to district investigators' documents.

The district's Office of Professional Standards then began investigating.

According to the investigators' report, Riojas is alleged to have had sexual relationships with three students, was "partying" with them at her home and took at least one student to hotels.

In a written statement, Riojas denied the claims, saying she is "shocked and saddened by the allegations."

On Oct. 18, district investigators interviewed three male students, but they denied having inappropriate relationships with Riojas.

The next day, one student told officials that he had had a sexual relationship with Riojas and that he worried that he was the father of her child, according to the documents. His mother told district officials that she thought that the teacher was getting too close to her son and that she suspected Riojas of buying him gifts.

Riojas denied that a student could be her child's father. She said some male students went to her classroom for tutoring at lunchtime, along with about a dozen other students, or attended after-school tutoring, but she denied that students went to her home.

"As a first year teacher last year, I made mistakes like any other teacher may, however, absolutely NONE of the allegations ... have any truth to them," she wrote.

She told officials that during her first year, she had driven students to and from wrestling matches but quit after an assistant principal told her that, while well-intended, doing so was inappropriate, according to the investigators' documents.

She was also seen taking students off campus last year, according to the report.

After the student admitted having sex with Riojas, district officials notified Fort Worth police.

The student told a police detective that he was in Riojas' first-period class as a sophomore in fall 2009, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

After a while, he started spending lunch periods in her classroom. He was on the football team, and she started attending games, according to the affidavit. Riojas visited him while he was hospitalized for a sports injury in December, and they had sex for the first time in his hospital bed, the detective reported.

Later, the teen said, they had sex in rooms Riojas rented at hotels near North East Mall. The detective confirmed that Riojas paid for rooms at a Hurst hotel Dec. 10 and Jan. 28.

Riojas declined to talk to the detective, according to the affidavit.

She started teaching at Carter-Riverside in August 2009 and was on a probationary contract, district spokesman Clint Bond said.

Eva-Marie Ayala, 817-390-7700