A former Irrigon High School student told detectives she had sex on the morning of her graduation with a teacher who is now being investigated by the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission.
Jake McElligott, who taught at Armand Larive Middle School and coached the Hermiston High School boys basketball team last year, is on paid administrative leave during an unspecified commission investigation, according to school district officials. The 35-year-old teacher previously worked for Morrow County School District and was the subject of a Morrow County Sheriff’s Office investigation involving a possible sex crime that did not result in criminal charges.
McElligott has not responded to three messages this week requesting a comment.
According to a report from the sheriff’s office, the investigation began Sept. 4, 2014, when Morrow County School District Superintendent Dirk Dirksen advised the sheriff’s office a staff member spoke to a former Irrigon High School student who admitted having a sexual relationship with McElligott, her former teacher and coach. A detective met with the woman who said the sexual relationship began in January 2014, a year after she had graduated from Irrigon High School.
A few days later, during a follow-up interview, the former student confessed to not being honest during her initial interview, the report states. She admitted to being sexually active with McElligott on the morning prior to her graduation from high school in 2013, though she was not a minor at that time. She said she had been in love with McElligott most of her senior year of high school, but he refused to talk with her about it or to allow her to state her feelings for him, insisting she had to wait until she graduated. She also said she initiated their first sexual encounter.
The relationship continued through the summer, she said, and they were with each other again that winter and at least once during the following summer.
According to the report, the former student said she still had feelings for McElligott and did not want him to be in trouble. She said she was not innocent and knew what she was doing. She said McElligott was appropriate with her while she was a student and helped her through personal and family issues during her time in junior high and high school. She said McElligott followed a code in which he never gets involved with a student until they graduate and are over 18. She said she had signed her exit papers from the school a week before graduation and did not believe she was a student at that time.
At the time of the September 2014 interview, the former student said McElligott was also sleeping with another former Irrigon High School student who graduated in 2014, according to the report. The detective attempted to contact the second person, who was also an adult at the time of her graduation, but the report states she did not respond to multiple messages.
The case was closed because there were no allegations of criminal conduct, but the detective recommended that the report be forwarded to the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission for investigation.
Oregon Administrative Rules state “any sexual conduct with a student” is considered gross neglect of duty, for which the commission may initiate proceedings to suspend or revoke the educator’s license.
The rules also state an ethical educator must “maintain an appropriate professional student-teacher relationship by: (a) not demonstrating or expressing professionally inappropriate interest in a student’s personal life; (b) not accepting or giving or exchanging romantic or overly personal gifts or notes with a student; (c) reporting to the educator’s supervisor if the educator has reason to believe a student is or may be becoming romantically attached to the educator; and (d) honoring appropriate adult boundaries with students in conduct and conversations at all times.”