A Chicago area kindergarten teacher has been charged with sexual assault and solicitation of child pornography, the Cook County sheriff’s office announced Tuesday.
Shannon Griffin, a 49-year-old teacher at Jordan Baptist School in Burbank, IL, was arrested Monday after months of investigation into her conduct. According to investigators, Griffin “engaged in sexual conduct” with an underage student that attended the school.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said an investigation revealed that “Griffin sent nude pictures and videos of herself to and requested nude pictures from the minor and another juvenile victim, also enrolled at the school.” Police say the conduct began in 2013 and continued until March of this year. Griffin has been charged with distribution of harmful materials and grooming.
Jassen Strokosch, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, said the agency is involved in an ongoing investigation into “multiple allegations of abuse” against Griffin and her alleged inappropriate contact with students.
The inquiry into Griffin began in March after the Burbank Police Department received an anonymous tip, according to police documents. The tipster also told police that the school’s pastor, who is Griffin’s husband, and the principal were made aware of the inappropriate videos and images.
Parents and students told ABC 7 Chicago that the pictures and videos had been circulating among students, prompting one mother to anonymously report Griffin.
“The pictures with her in undergarments are the recent pics. The video is something they’ve been circulating,” the woman said.
According to one student, Griffin was strict when it came to the school’s dress code.
“She would write me up and other girls and, like, how ironic that you’re telling us how to dress, us how to be modest, and be Christian women, and you turn around doing the exact opposite,” said Yhaneera Aparicio-Armas, a 2014 graduate of the school.
Aparicio-Armas also noticed Griffin getting close to students in the past.
“She would be really close to him,” Aparicio-Armas said of one particular student. “She would put her arm on him and she would sit too close to him, especially when we would have chapel.”
Griffin is scheduled to make her first appearance in court on Wednesday, and authorities are encouraging any other victims to come forward.
Shannon Griffin and the teacher sex epidemic
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Social Psychology tested the theory that “male teachers are judged more harshly than female teachers for engaging in heterosexual intercourse with a student. According to the researchers, “a reverse sexual double standard was revealed, in which participants judged situations involving male teachers more harshly than they judged situations involving female teachers, but only when the sexual contact was teacher-initiated.”
Writing for Salon in June 2008 about the phenomenon of female teachers having sex with their students, journalist Carol Lloyd suggested that “the power imbalance between men and women may influence the way society regards statutory rapists.”
But contrary to the stereotypes of women as harmless nurturers – and teen boys as sexually insatiable – experts have said that female teachers do just as much harm to the boys they prey on as their male counterparts do to girls.
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