Shaniya Cotton, a 19-year-old after-school aide from Jonesboro, Georgia, was arrested by the Fayetteville Police Department on Friday, December 14 for allegedly having a sexual relationship with an underage teenager.
Cotton was arrested at the Fayetteville Elementary School on Friday, December 14 and was charged with statutory rape involving an underage victim. The alleged relationship reportedly happened between July 2017 and November 2018.
According to the Fayetteville Police Department, Cotton met the victim at the Addison on Cobblestone apartments in Fayette County, which is where the pair carried out the sexual relationship. Police say that the two sometimes carried out their sexual relationship in the complex fitness center.
Furthermore, the victim was not a student at Fayetteville Elementary, which prompted school officials to alert area parents that the accusations against Cotton have nothing to do with her duties at the school.
Sharon Walters, the After School Program director of the Fayette County Public School system, released the following statement following Cotton’s arrest:
I need to make you aware of a situation involving the arrest of one of our After School Program (ASP) aides.
A 19-year old female employee was arrested at the school Friday afternoon. We just learned this morning that the circumstances of the arrest involved a relationship between her and a 14-year old male student, no students at Fayetteville Elementary are involved in this matter.
The employee has been removed from her duties in ASP and will not be returning.
Please know that the safety of our students is a top priority in the After School Program, and we take all the steps necessary to ensure that students have a safe environment to learn and grow.
It is our practice to keep you aware of all situations that happen at the school by getting accurate information to you as quickly as we have the facts. Please let me know if I can answer any questions or concerns, and thank you for your support of After School Program. You may contact me at 770-460-3990, ext. 256.
As for why there has been such a significant increase in instances of teachers having sexual relationships with students, researchers believe that technology is to blame.
According to a report from the Texas Education Association, smartphones make easy for teachers to privately text and talk with students and also make it possible for teachers and students to share explicit images.
SESAME (Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct & Exploitation) President Terri Miller echoed that sentiment, stating “before cell phones, we knew who our kids were talking to” but today, “kids have their own phones, they’re taking them to bed, and parents need to watch more.”
Hoffman has been one of many teachers to be charged for inappropriate conduct. Over the course of just a few months, teachers across the United States have been charged, tried, and convicted of various abuse and sex crimes.
The list goes on to include 22-year-old Oklahoma science teacher Hunter Day, 28-year-old teacher Megan Kotarski, 23-year-old history teacher Michelle Schiffer, 29-year-old Alyssia Marie Reddy, special education teacher Jordan Ondish and 28-year-old Samantha Fitzpatrick have all been allegedly carrying on inappropriate relationships with their students.