Ashley Waffle, a 22-year-old teacher’s aide in Oklahoma, is facing up to 15 years in prison for allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old student.
According to reports, Waffle began messaging the student on Snapchat just over two weeks after landing her job as a temporary teacher’s aide with Granite Public Schools. The two later met twice at Waffle’s apartment and allegedly had sexual relations.
Rumors of a relationship between Waffle and the teen made their way to school officials who then alerted the police.
Waffle was fired from her position following her arrest and faces two second-degree rape charges.
— New York Post (@nypost) November 22, 2022
Over the course of the past year alone, a handful of teachers have been arrested on similar charges, including 25-year-old substitute teacher Alexis Mercedes Boberg in Baltimore, Beulah High School teacher Kelsie Schmidt in North Dakota, Rancocas Valley Regional High School teacher Alexandra Reiner in New Jersey, and 50-year-old Florida substitute teacher Angela Jean Stanton in Florida. Additionally, Texas teachers Meredith Null and Edna Longoria were arrested on similar charges.
As for why the number of these incidents has seemingly increased, studies suggest that smartphones are the primary reason for the spike in illicit relationships, as it allows teachers to communicate with the minors without supervision.
According to a report from the Texas Education Association, smartphones make it easy for teachers to privately text and talk with students and also make it possible for teachers and students to share explicit images.