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Another Teacher, Another Student


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Teacher Headed to Neb. to Face Charges

Wednesday, November 07, 2007 6:09:19 PM

By ELLIOT SPAGAT

 

As they parted outside a Mexican police station, the Nebraska teacher who ran off with a 13-year-old tearfully told the boy that she would always love him. But it's doubtful she will see him again anytime soon -- unless the boy, an illegal immigrant, is allowed back in the U.S. to testify against her.

 

A federal magistrate judge in El Centro denied bail Wednesday to Kelsey Peterson, 25, who agreed to be sent to Nebraska to face charges that she fled to Mexico with the intention of having sex with the boy.

 

Peterson showed no emotion except for a weak smile for her lawyer as she left the courtroom. The attorney, Diane Regan, declined to comment on the charges to reporters but described Peterson as congenial and "a bit naive."

 

"Her family is behind her 100 percent," the attorney told the judge.

 

The 13-year-old boy appears much less supportive of his sixth-grade teacher. He told The Associated Press Tuesday that he was willing to testify in U.S. court.

 

He said the pair had sexual intercourse "maybe twice" earlier this year, before the boy was sent to a youth camp in Nebraska after trying to run away from home.

 

Their trip to Mexico began nearly two weeks ago in the meatpacking town of Lexington, Neb., about 200 miles west of Omaha. He watched movies on a DVD player while she drove west to California, then south to Mexico.

 

The boy said the trip was Peterson's idea, but quickly added that he went along willingly. He had told her he wanted to visit his birthplace in Penjamo, a town in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, where his father still lives.

 

"I had problems in Lexington and I wanted to get away, but it was a bad idea," he said. "Now I can't go back."

 

The boy spoke on the patio of a family friend's house in the border farming town of Janitzio. The family took him in Friday after Mexican authorities found him and Peterson at a mall parking lot in the nearby Mexican city of Mexicali.

 

The boy wore knee-length shorts and a T-shirt, cropped black hair, earrings and a tattoo of a cross on the knuckle of his right middle finger. He occasionally pulled a cell phone from his pocket. He spoke flawless English; his Spanish is limited.

 

The AP had previously named the boy, but later removed his name because recent charges allege he was the victim of a sex crime.

 

The boy called his former teacher "my best friend" but said she wasn't a girlfriend.

 

"I could tell her anything," he said. "She would listen."

 

The boy said he and other teenage students watched movies at Peterson's house, and Peterson called him at youth camp to ask how he was doing. The relationship chilled at the start of the school year, when schoolyard rumors spread that the two were a couple. But the boy said Peterson began talking to him again about a month ago.

 

Mexican authorities captured the pair by tracing the location of a GPS-enabled cell the two used to call the boy's uncle in Yuma, Ariz.

 

When the two parted at the police station, one officer said, the boy shed no tears while his former teacher wept.

 

"She said to the youngster that she loved him and would always love him in her heart," said Alfredo Arenas Moreno of the Baja California state police. She expressed no regrets and felt it was unfair to be separated from her 8-year-old daughter.

 

The boy had no money and no identification while Peterson had $400. The trunk of the car was loaded with clothes, toiletries, blankets, pillows, bottled water, photos of Peterson's family and Disney DVDs.

 

"They basically didn't have a plan," Moreno said. "They were living day to day."

 

The boy said they drove 1,300 miles to Riverside, Calif., outside Los Angeles, to search for relatives and then made a short trip to the beach, where he swam in the ocean.

 

"She wanted to see the beach, I guess, because she had never seen it," he said.

 

From there, they drove through San Diego to Tijuana, Mexico, and then about 120 miles east to Mexicali, staying at hotels throughout the trip.

 

http://www.mail.com/Article.aspx?articlepa...t=&pageid=1

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